Dolphins owner turns to company he invested in for COVID-19 protection

UV light protection to play COVID-19 defense for NFL team

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is turning to an ultra-violet lighting company -- that he's an investor in -- in an effort to protect his NFL players against the coronavirus pandemic.

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Healthe Lighting is being charged to retrofit the team's training facility with a series of far-UVC lights called "troffers" to prevent the spread of the virus on surfaces as well as anyone entering the space.

“If we learn of ways to make our facility cleaner and safer for our players, coaches and staff, then we’re going to implement them," Ross told FOX Business in a statement. "The technology surrounding the troffers, which uses HEPA-filtration with UV light to inactivate 99.97 percent of airborne virus, was eye-opening to me in terms of what can be effective in creating a cleaner environment.”

A total of 40 devices have been set up around the facility for an extra line of protection. Meanwhile, the Dolphins have also built a new locker room with plexiglass between each player's locker and have placed hand sanitizers throughout the building.

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Former NASA scientist Fred Maxik, Healthe’s founder and chief technology officer, told FOX Business that there are decades of studies that show that UVC technolgy has been "amazingly effective at inactivating this virus at fairly low doses of light." 

Healthe specifically uses far-UVC light, or roughly 220 nanometers of ultraviolet light, which can kill viruse bacteria without harming human skin, eyes or other tissues.

Researchers at Columbia University found that far-UVC was successful in inactivating the airborne H1N1 influenza virus, as well as drug-resistant bacteria, just minutes after they were breathed, coughed or sneezed into the air.

"Far-UVC light has the potential to be a 'game-changer,'" David Brenner, a professor of radiation biophysics and director of Columbia's center for radiological research wrote in the study, "It can be safely used in occupied public spaces, and it kills pathogens in the air before we can breathe them in."

Brenner added that far-UVC offers a "fundamentally different tactic in the war against COVID-19."

"Most approaches focus on fighting the virus once it has gotten into the body," Brenner said. "Far-UVC is one of the very few approaches that has the potential to prevent the spread of viruses before they enter the body."

According to Brenner, the price tag for the average far-UVC lamp is roughly $500-$1,000, which he believes will likely fall once the lamps can be mass-produced.

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While Healthe’s Maxik believes his company's technology will be one of the best lines of defense to get the team through the football season, he believes people should still practice other measures, like masks and social distancing.

"UVC light is a wonderful tool to get our environment clean, to get our air clean, to get our surfaces clean. But there's still instances where we're in close proximity with one another and, you know, good habits like masks, like social distancing, are still probably an effective way to minimize this viral spread," Maxik said. "So we're not suggesting anyone do anything different. We're just saying this is a wonderful tool and supplements that and will get us back into spaces we want to use again."

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