Establishments such as businesses, transportation systems, and community organizations are developing plans to resume normal or phased operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. These plans may include an initial assessment to try to identify people who may be infectious to limit the spread of COVID-19 infections. Temperature measurement can be one part of the assessment to determine if a person has an elevated temperature potentially caused by a COVID-19 infection. One method to measure a person's surface temperature is the use of "no-touch" or non-contact temperature assessment devices, such as thermal imaging systems (also known as thermal imaging cameras or infrared telethermographic systems) or non-contact infrared thermometers. The use of other temperature assessment devices, such as oral thermometers, requires physical contact which may increase the risk of spreading infection.
The available scientific literature supports using thermal imaging systems and non-contact infrared thermometers to detect elevated temperatures. These devices have many benefits, but they must be used properly to get accurate readings. Since an elevated temperature does not conclusively indicate a COVID-19 infection, further evaluation and diagnostic testing are needed to determine if someone has a COVID-19 infection.
For the FDA's recommendations on the benefits, limitations, and proper use of these devices, see:
Thermal Imaging Systems (Infrared Thermographic Systems / Thermal Imaging Cameras)
Non-contact Infrared Thermometers
Benefits of Non-contact Temperature Assessment Devices
These non-contact devices can quickly measure and display a temperature reading so a large number of people can be evaluated individually at points of entry.
Non-contact infrared thermometers require minimal cleaning between uses.
Using non-contact temperature measurement devices may help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 infections.