Feb 11, 2021 - News

The COVID-sniffing dogs keeping Floridians safe

Collage picture of three pics of dogs

The COVID-sniffing canines (from left): Cobra, Mac, Hubble and One-Betta. Photos courtesy of FIU

If you want to see sports and concerts in person soon, you'll have a few four-legged MVPs to thank: Mac, Hubble, Cobra and One-Betta.

Why they matter: The coronavirus-sniffing canines, newly trained at Florida International University, have been put to work at Miami Heat games — and could soon be what it takes to get in-person events going in Tampa Bay.

  • The pups were first trained to detect COVID-19 odors in a lab and can now do so in larger spaces like auditoriums, computer labs and libraries.

How it works: Like bomb-detecting dogs, they can detect the odor from particles, aerosols and cellular material left on surfaces by a person infected with COVID.

  • They've achieved more than 90% accuracy and low false positives so far, FIU officials said.
  • The smaller dogs are used to sniff out the virus in hard-to-reach spaces, like under and between chairs.

The sniffing squad has been busy all around the state, working on FIU's campus and sweeping the State Emergency Operations Center and the Capitol in Tallahassee.

What's next: While the Lightning could start having fans at Amalie Arena in a couple of weeks, a spokesman for the team told us there have been no conversations about using the COVID-sniffing squad, as alluded to by WFLA.

This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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