CHARLOTTE — During the first episode of the Panthers' "Road to Restart" series last month, you probably noticed a machine that disinfects rooms with ultraviolet light.
It's called a LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robot, a product from Xenex Disinfection Services. The machine is one of the ways the Panthers are attempting to keep their facility free of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Usually, these LightStrike devices are used by hospital rooms to prevent hospital-acquired infections, such as staph or MRSA. According to Xenex, the robot emits bursts of intense, broad spectrum UV light that damages virus DNA in four ways and renders it useless.
"Our goal is to make this the safest facility and stadium that it can possibly be and that's why we chose XENEX," said Eddie Levins, director of security and infectious control officer for the Carolina Panthers and Bank of America Stadium. "It was clear in our evaluations that XENEX provided the best UV disinfecting solution for us and allowed us to quickly and effectively sanitize our football areas and other areas throughout the stadium. We have worked since March to develop a comprehensive health and safety plan so that everyone would feel safe and comfortable returning to Bank of America Stadium and XENEX is an important part of those efforts."
Levins said once he heard about the machine, the club sold team owner David Tepper on its effectiveness.
"It's going to look kind of weird, but it does exactly what we need it to do, which is deactivate the virus," Levins said.
So far, the Panthers have two of the machines with the possibility to acquire more if needed. The team is also using two LightStrike Disinfection Pods, which are mobile containment units that enable the power of the LightStrike robot's intense, germicidal light to be used anywhere in a facility. The Pods are currently used to disinfect player pads, cleats and helmets after every practice.
"We began using the robots to disinfect the locker rooms, weight room, rehab areas and offices during camp, and we've expanded utilization throughout the building and throughout the stadium," Levins said. "We can use it in suites, using it in any public space that we need a quick down-and-dirty sanitization. We clean it, and then we disinfect it so it's ready to go, so people can feel safe coming in here again."