How effective are temperature scans checking for COVID-19?

Posted at 12:59 AM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 08:57:04-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — 98.6 degrees, that's the temperature places such as doctor's offices, dentists offices, restaurants, and hotels hope to get from you when checking as you enter. However, a new study by The Physiological Society says that protocol may be ineffective.

“While these scanners are effective and they can see most of the time if someone has a fever, just because someone does not have a fever does not mean they do not have Covid,” said Robert Hawkes, Director of the Physician's Assistant Program at FGCU.

Robert Hawkes is the Director of the Physician’s Assistant Program at Florida Gulf Coast University, and he says there are many variables to determine an accurate reading.

“To be effective they need to be within a certain distance, if people do not have a lot of training and they are just kind of scanning people as they are walking into a door, they may be further away which may give an off reading. The other thing to keep in mind is that the skin is not always the best source of temperature. So someone may have a low-grade fever, that does not get picked up by these thermal scanners,” said Hawkes.

While places like hotels, doctor's offices, some restaurants, and grocery stores are checking temperatures. Hawkes says, there is one thing you should do if you aren’t comfortable having yours checked.

“Probably the big thing is that if people are not feeling well, just stay home. If someone has any of the other symptoms of Covid -19 and they don’t have a fever it doesn’t mean that they don't have it. It's important to remember that they are not full-proof, that it's not 100% effective but that’s really going to be true of any test, but for most of the population if they have a fever these thermal tests are really going to be able to pick that up.” said Hawkes.