As the US is rapidly closing in on reaching 200,000 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear there is no single fast and easy fix for preventing the spread of the virus. Still, schools and businesses are reopening and virtually every industry is struggling to adopt and implement the best safety precautions to quell the fears of an anxious public.
Screening people for fever as they enter a facility has been a widely accepted first step in mitigating risk, and thermal imaging systems offer a fast, accurate, and contact-free screening method. Thermal imaging systems use cameras that automatically capture an image of a person’s face based upon the amount of infrared radiation they emit to determine their temperature. Conversely, manual methods of temperature screening such as temporal are slow and cause backups at entranceways, expose human screeners to higher risk, and can be less accurate.
The FDA recently reported that, “Thermal imaging systems generally detect a high body temperature accurately when used appropriately.” They also listed the following benefits:
- The person who manages a thermal imaging system is not required to be physically close to the person being evaluated. In fact, the person who handles the thermal imaging system could be in a different area or room.
- Thermal imaging systems may measure surface skin temperature faster than typical thermometers that require a close distance or physical contact with the person being evaluated.
- Scientific studies show, when used correctly, thermal imaging systems generally measure surface skin temperature accurately.
Additionally, the FDA has stated thermal imaging systems are a viable method for initial temperature assessment in settings that are required to screen large groups of people (airports, concert venues, businesses, etc.) when used as part of a larger approach to risk management. Even in hospitals, a thermal imaging system “may help to quickly assess temperature and triage patients to determine who needs more evaluation or isolation.”
How to Get the Most Accurate Measurement
Per the FDA, thermal imaging cameras must be used appropriately for the most accurate reading. Ideally, that means focusing the camera to read the temperature generated from a person’s “thermal brain tunnel.” The thermal brain tunnel, a bi-directional tunnel that starts at the intersection of the nose and eyebrow (essentially near the tear duct), was discovered by a Yale researcher in 2003. This area delivers the most precise measurement of brain temperature – the single most important temperature of the body.
Thermal imaging systems must be properly set up to capture temperature from this specific site, and/or the camera’s operators must understand how to properly “read” the thermal images. DeCurtis Shield™ automates this process. Shield leverages thermal imaging technology to screen an individual’s temperature in one second and is specifically calibrated to access temperatures from the thermal brain tunnel.
Temperature Screening is Part of the Plan
It’s important to understand that temperature screening will not, on its own, eliminate the risk of outbreak at a facility. While scientists are still learning about COVID-19, the CDC has reported that it can be spread by people who display no symptoms, which means that an infected person could spread it without having a fever. Additionally, not all fevers are caused by COVID and a person’s body temperature may naturally fluctuate based on a range of factors.
Still, if temperature screening can prevent even one person who has a communicable disease from entering your facility, it is a great start in improving the safety of everyone involved. When used in conjunction with other safety measures such as social distancing, wearing masks, hand washing, increased sanitization, and improved ventilation, it can help mitigate risks to help keep your business open and operating.