NASCAR to use COVID-detecting dogs at Atlanta

NASCAR officials plan to introduce a new facet to the COVID-19 screening process this weekend, using trained dogs to detect coronavirus among essential personnel for Sunday’s Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The procedure will be deployed on a trial basis before Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 as a potential first line of at-track defense intended to limit the disease’s spread. Teams were notified Tuesday. It’s the latest development in an evolving process and one that could present an efficient, highly accurate and cost-effective supplement to the existing procedures.

“We think that these dogs and this capability is going to allow us to rapidly confirm that all of those people entering the essential footprint on Sunday — that’s race teams, that’s NASCAR officials, that’s the vendors that work inside the garage — all those folks are COVID-free or not,” said Tom Bryant, NASCAR managing director of racing operations. “The ability to do that has kind of been the math problem that we have continuously tried to solve since March of last year.”

NASCAR will work with 360 K9 Group, which has training facilities in Anniston, Alabama, and New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Two teams of dogs will screen essential personnel, assessing in less than 30 seconds per person whether COVID-19 is present and then alerting their handlers if the disease is detected.

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