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Temperature screenings may seem like a fast, easy and relatively cheap COVID-19 safety measure — they’ve been adopted by schools, airlines, hospitals and others to check for coronavirus — but experts say they just aren’t very effective.
The method is too inaccurate and too unreliable, Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said during an event with the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, so he no longer bothers with it.
“We have found at the [National Institutes of Health], that it is much, much better to just question people when they come in and save the time, because the temperatures are notoriously inaccurate, many times,” Fauci said.
At one point, when entering the White House, his temperature registered 103 degrees after coming in from the summer heat. Later he entered another building and read 93 degrees, he said, “which means I should have been on a respirator.”
Despite investing in top-of-the-line contactless temperature screening devices, schools have still seen seen coronavirus outbreaks, ABC News reported. Others are asking parents to check their kids every morning before the school day starts.
Even when devices are being used correctly, screenings may miss up to half of infections, according to the FDA.
Aside from inaccurate readings, temperature checks can easily miss pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic people, McClatchy News recently reported. Though contagious, they won’t be running a fever and will coast right through any checkpoints and have ample opportunity to spread the virus.
Temperature checks aren’t useless. They are capable of catching some cases, and should be treated as just another tool to use alongside others, like masks and social distancing. But when it comes to monitoring and containing the coronavirus, officials believe testing is it still the best option, McClatchy News said.