Some NC faculties roll out hi-tech temperature scanners

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – As the Triangle and the rest of the country opens up following the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more places are putting in proactive measures to give advance warning of the virus.

One of the ways they’re doing that is to automate fever scanning.

When the pandemic first began to rage, people in public places like offices or airports had their temperatures taken with a hand-held thermometer. That screening procedure was looking for fever, which is one of the early signs of COVID-19. However, those hand-held devices can be tricked.

“If someone goes to an airport and ices down their forehead, you can fool a handheld device,” said Michael Lende, the CEO of Predictiv Ai.

Enter the ThermalPass. It’s a $7,000 device that takes up to 1,200 temperature readings a second from two dozen sensors to see if the person passing through it has a fever.

“It filters out people who might have a temperature for any reason,” Lende said.

Iredell-Statesville Schools purchased several of the units. 

School spokeswoman Dr. Boen Nutting said the devices found several students with elevated temperatures who were sent home, but it’s unknown if they had COVID-19 or not.

She also said the units also detected a number of false positives including students with:

  • A hot cup of coffee 
  • A bag of hot fast-food burgers 
  • Several who’d been outside in the hot sun 

Nutting said those students who’d been outside were pulled aside, allowed to cool down, and then had their temperatures retaken with a thermometer to make sure they weren’t feverish. 

“It’s no longer acceptable to walk into a school or place of business, a theater or whatever, with a low-grade fever,” Lende said

Legal experts warn that businesses and schools that don’t do health monitoring could be legally liable if someone contracts COVID-19. 

Since the device already screens for temperatures, could it be used for other things like metal detecting? The company said that’s coming soon.

“Metal detecting is on our chart,” Lende said.

He said when it becomes available, prior purchasers will not have to buy new units.

“There are some that will be retrofitted, and ones that can’t will be swapped out,” he said.

Because of the way COVID-19 affected society, it’s a good bet that health-monitoring measures will be around for many more years the same way that 9/11 safety procedures remain decades after those terrorist attacks.

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