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Mid-South theater headliner enlists COVID-19 sniffing dogs to security team

Lyric Theater
Lyric Theater(WMC)
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 9:28 PM CDT
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OXFORD, Miss. (WMC) - For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lyric Theater in Oxford hosted its first sold-out concert Thursday.

Being in Mississippi, a state with lows in COVID-19 vaccinations and highs in daily case rates, the theater has equipped itself with rapid testing for all attendees.

“There was a possibility that we would have to test every person individually,” said Lyric general manager, Lindsay Dillon-Maginnis.

Thursday’s headliner, The Black Keys, brought an extra tool to the security protocol--- COVID-19 sniffing dogs.

“For concerts right now, we are requiring either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test from the last 72 hours,” said Dillon-Maginnis. “If the dogs do detect someone or smell COVID-19 on someone, they will be pulled out of the line for additional screening on-site.”

“We’ve proven that dogs on a human host can find viruses and bacteria,” said Jerry Johnson, president of Bio-Detection K9.

Johnson said his company partners with the NASCAR Cup Series, the Chicago Marathon, and obviously The Black Keys as an added measure of security during the pandemic.

The dogs were originally being trained to detect West Nile virus, then the pandemic hit.

“We’ve started to generate a lot of interest in touring because concerts are back,” Johnson said.

Johnson made clear that the dogs are not for diagnosing COVID-19.

The dogs are trained to smell the virus, but their services are not FDA approved, though we’re told there have already been conversations.

“People that hire us understand that they still need to rely on all mandated protocols,” Johnson said. “The FDA-approved tests are the only things that can say that you have COVID-19 or you don’t have COVID-19.”

The added measure is meant to forego testing every attendee who walks through the door, something that would take eight hours, according to Dillon-Maginnis.

“I think it makes everyone who is in here feel a lot more relaxed, knowing that we’ve gone through these additional precautions and this extra screening when you are inside of the venue right next to somebody,” she said.

The Black Keys concert is part of a small venue tour as part of their latest album, “Delta Kream,” which is an album paying tribute to the Mississippi hill country blues heritage.

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