Will Thermal Scanners Help Us Get Back to Work?

Temperature alone can't detect whether someone has the coronavirus.

When Americans eventually emerge from the coronavirus quarantine, things will be different. Among the changes will likely be back-to-work gadgets, such as thermal scanners, installed in businesses across the country.

Employees at one Subway store in Los Angeles are having their temperatures checked by a high-tech imaging system made by the company PopID. The employees take the test four times a day: when they arrive to work, when they take a break, at lunchtime and before they leave.

Employees put their face up to the machine and the machine takes their temperature. Bob Grewal, the owner of the store, says the store is “taking additional precautions" and the device is "one piece of that larger puzzle that they are trying to solve.”

In Palm Beach Florida, the county court has installed ten thermal imaging cameras that can scan 20 people at a time, and “anybody with a temperature over 100.4 is not allowed to come into the courtroom," Krista Marx, Chief Judge of Palm County told Inside Edition.

In the wake of the pandemic, devices like these are being installed at businesses and public buildings across America.

But experts like Alex Angler warn temperature alone can't detect whether someone has COVID-19.

"It's still just guessing about your inner body temperature based on the temperature of your face," said Alex Angler. "Most of the people these tests are going to stop are going to be healthy. It's concerning if you are only using these tests, you are going to send a lot of healthy people home from work."

Flir, a large manufacturer of the thermal scanners, said the devices "are an effective tool for measuring skin surface temperatures," but added that "our products are not used to diagnose coronavirus."

In a statement to Inside Edition, PopID said:

“While thermal cameras for taking employee temperatures in itself will not end coronavirus it is a data point to use to create a safer workplace. Temperatures in conjunction with other measures such as social distancing and questionnaires about symptoms will undoubtedly help flatten the curve of coronavirus and help fight the spread of future transmittable diseases.”