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Habitat Magazine July/August 2020 free digital issue

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COVID-19

Is the Thermometer the New Welcome Mat?

New York State

COVID-19, temperature checks, state legislature, business owners.
May 12, 2020

The outmatched arsenal for fighting the spread of COVID-19 may soon have a new – and dubious – weapon. State Sen. David Carlucci, a Democrat who represents Rockland and Westchester Counties, has introduced legislation in Albany that would allow business owners to take the temperatures of employees, customers, and vendors before they come onto the premises – and then take corrective action to remove individuals with a temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

The bill also ensures that affected customers have an alternate way to receive the products and services that they need. Businesses who opt to use these procedures must post signs informing customers about the screening.

“We must give our businesses every tool to protect their customers and employees,” Carlucci says. “Taking a person’s temperature before they enter an establishment is a simple way to identify a potential symptom of COVID-19 and help limit its spread.”

Researchers have found fever to be one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. However, most people who have COVID-19 don't actually have fevers, and as many as 25 percent of infected people don’t show any symptoms at all, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between those two stats, it's likely that screening for high temperatures will overlook more than half of those infected, suggested one study published by the National Institutes of Health.

Undeterred by such inconvenient realities, Carlucci is pressing ahead with his campaign to let business owners take people’s temperatures. “People are taking extra precautions during this crisis, but they still need to go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, and the gas station,” Carlucci says. “We need to ensure that there are systems in place to keep residents even safer when out.”

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