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Carolina Panthers use UV light to kill off coronavirus in stadium

Posted October 1, 2020 6:00 a.m. EDT
Updated October 8, 2020 8:46 p.m. EDT

— The Carolina Panthers are the first NFL team to use a new ultraviolet light technology, deployed by robot, to kill off the coronavirus in their stadium and other facilities.

The Panthers are the first to use the Xenex Light Strike Robot.

"Coronaviruses on surfaces and objects naturally die within hours to days. Warmer temperatures and exposure to sunlight will reduce the time the virus survives on surfaces and objects," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officials with the Panthers said that this UV technology can reduce the risk of coronavirus for staff, players and fans.

"We wanted to make sure that this was the safest possible stadium that could be in the NFL," said Ed Levins, director of security and infection control for the Carolina Panthers.

The device that the Panthers are using, the LightStrike Robot, was extensively tested at Texas Biomedical Institute.

The CEO of Xenex, the company that makes the robot, said that the bot can kill the coronavirus 99.99% of the time in two minutes with ultraviolet light.

"The Light Strike Robot is the only device that has been proven to kill SARS/COVI-2, that causes Covid-19, in 2 minutes. It kills it to 99.99%. That's the limit of the test," said CEO Morris Miller.

Each robot costs $125,000. The device emits bursts of broad spectrum UV light that quickly destroy microscopic viruses and bacteria that can remain in a room even after it has been cleaned with liquid disinfectants.

The robot's effectiveness is supported by more than 40 studies, according to Miller.

Miller said the LightStrike robot was launched in 2011 but mostly confined to health care and surgical facilities.

"Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen almost six times the demand for LightStrike robots that we had ever seen in the past," he said.

Miller said that the robot can provide a peace of mind for the Panthers.

"That the stadium, locker room, bus or airplane that they’re on is as pathogen free as it can possibly be," Miller said.

Other UV light systems designed to kill germs and viruses have been in use for several years, including one currently used by the Miami Dolphins, but the Xenexcompany says the Panthers are the first to adopt their LightStrike device.

As the first NFL team to use the robot, Levins said the organization is making sure that players can now focus more on the game.

"Fans could feel like this is the safest place and the cleanest space that they could possibly come to to enjoy a football game," Levins said.

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