Are coronavirus temperature checks effective?

Temperature checks are becoming the new normal

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Temperature checks at workplaces and public spaces may become the new normal because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But do they work? A recent study of 5,700 hospitalized coronavirus patients at New York's Northwell Health found that only one third had fevers when first assessed.

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"We should not be checking fever alone," senior study author Karina Davidson of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research told FOX Business. "That is not sufficient to know when someone has a COVID-19 infection."

Although checking for a fever isn't a 100 percent effective way to determine if an individual has coronavirus, properly conducted checks can help screen infected individuals, Eyal Leshem of the Center for Travel Medicine and Tropical Diseases at Israel's Sheba Medical Center told FOX Business.

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"We know many persons infected with COVID-19 do not have a fever," Leshem said. "While not expected to identify all persons infected with COVID-19, workplace temperature checks have a potential to improve workers' safety and reduce transmission of COVID-19 as well as other common viruses such as influenza and norovirus."

Paul Pitney, right, Executive Director of the Dickson County Family YMCA, takes the temperature of Eric Thornton as Thornton arrives at the facility to work out Friday, May 1, 2020, in Dickson, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) (Associated Press)

Companies including Amazon and Ford have committed to temperature checks. Employees with temperatures above 100.4 degrees will be sent home.

Workplace temperature checks, whether conducted by an employer or office building management, will bring confidentiality, safety and other issues, employment attorney Helen Rella of Wilk Auslander told FOX Business.

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"It's not as simple as having somebody with a temperature gun," Rella said. "There are issues of whether tests are administered properly, who's going to administer them and are they administered in evenhanded way? Are the people administering them given proper PPE so they're not exposed to the virus?"

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"Temperature checks in a workplace are normally an impermissible activity," Rella said. "The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued these guidelines effectively gave a waiver … acting in accordance with recommendations from the CDC."

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