Dr. Fauci Says This One COVID Safety Measure Is "Notoriously Inaccurate"

The top medical advisor says that even hotter summer weather can render this practice useless.

Our attempts to stop the spread of coronavirus have changed everyday life as we knew it in early March. Whether it's wearing a face mask when in public, not being able to eat indoors, or washing your hands obsessively, we've been urged that our altered reality is the best way to stop the pandemic. However, medical experts have called out some new tactics as being ineffective, particularly temperature checks as a way of rooting out feverish, contagious carriers. In fact, according to Anthony Fauci, MD, temperature checks are "notoriously inaccurate."

During a recent event at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) dismissed many school administrators' idea of using contact-free forehead thermometers to protect children returning to classes this fall, according to ABC News.

Hand checking temperature at a customer with infrared tool in a shopping centre

Fauci even says that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the White House have abandoned the screening procedure. "We have found at the NIH, that it is much, much better to just question people when they come in and save the time," he said. In fact, Fauci said that his own temperature had been shown to be as high as 103 degrees recently due to spending time outdoors during hot summer weather.

And Fauci is far from the first medical expert to call out temperature checks for being inaccurate. James Hamblin, MD, recently wrote in The Atlantic that the safety measure was "doing more harm than good," since many contagious people don't have a fever. "The practice is sort of like spraying down the sides of buildings, showering football players in hand sanitizer, or deep cleaning an office carpet," Hamblin wrote. "These things might make us feel safer, but they may not keep us safe if they actually cause us to let our guard down."

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Then there is the issue of elevated temperatures that may not be the result of coronavirus, like Fauci's summer "fever." Many health issues can cause a fever, so temperature checks could single out people who don't even have COVID-19, Bruce Y. Lee, MD, wrote for Forbes. Even worse, they could also miss individuals who've taken a fever reducer such as acetaminophen and are contagious with the novel coronavirus.

Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines note that "screening and health checks are not a replacement for other protective measures such as social distancing." And for more advice from Fauci, check out You Can Safely Keep Your Mask Off If You're Doing This, Says Dr. Fauci.

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Zachary Mack
Zachary covers beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He's the owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. in New York City and is a Certified Cicerone. Read more
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