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Senators seek study to see if dogs can sniff out COVID-19 |

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Senators seek study to see if dogs can sniff out COVID-19

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) -- A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is supporting a proposal to fund a study to see if police dogs could detect coronavirus in passengers moving through the nation’s airports.

The proposal is part of a larger slate of tourism-related bills: The Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act of 2021.

Nevada Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen is the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade, and Export Promotion, which worked to combine several proposals into the larger package.

The omnibus plan passed the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation last month with unanimous bipartisan support.

Republican Sen. Rick Scott, of Florida, and Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona, first introduced the Fly Safe Canine COVID Detection Act last year.

If Congress passes the larger bill and President Joe Biden signs it, several federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration, would study if dogs could detect the presence of COVID-19.

“As Americans begin traveling more, we have to ensure families are safe,” Scott said in a statement last year. “We’ve seen reports that dogs can be effective in detecting COVID-19, and having canine units could provide an important additional level of screening at our airports. I’m proud to join Senator Sinema today to announce legislation directing TSA to conduct a feasibility study on the use of canine units, and will keep working to make sure Americans can travel safely.”

The idea would be to have scent dogs in America’s airports to screen for COVID-positive travelers and staff. The study would be due to Congress four months after the act is passed if it is passed. Congress would then make a recommendation based on the report.

Dogs are already used to find explosives, drugs and other items.

The Omnibus Travel and Tourism Act of 2021 includes other provisions, including the creation of a position within the Department of Commerce to focus solely on travel and tourism.

“Restoring the travel and tourism industry to its full potential is a top priority, and I’m glad to see our legislative package has passed the Senate Commerce Committee with strong bipartisan support,” Rosen said in a statement. “Over the past two years, tourism has been hit hard in Nevada and across the country because of COVID-19. This bipartisan package will take important steps to enhance air travel health and safety, enact a comprehensive study on the pandemic’s impact on the industry, and better coordinate our national travel and tourism strategy across federal agencies. I will continue working across the aisle to ensure the full Senate passes this legislation quickly to support our businesses and bring back good-paying jobs.”

The tourism industry employs nearly 350,000 Nevadans, Rosen’s office said.