Experts skeptical about pricey technology claiming to fight the spread of COVID-19

The idea is an attractive one: using new health-tracking technologies to get us back to work safely. From apps that track symptoms to thermal cameras that take temperatures, it's a space with a lot of new players rushing in.

"These things are going to be everywhere. Companies that used to just sell security cameras to schools, for example, are now adding thermal cameras to their lineup," said Tom Simonite, a senior writer at Wired. "I've seen some companies that used to sell facial recognition for security, now they're saying, 'Hey, we can do thermal cameras, too, and help you out with that.'"

Many companies looking to start back up while the pandemic is far from over have been buying the new technology. But experts warn there is little evidence to suggest the new tools will actually contain the spread of COVID-19. While technology like thermal cameras may be effective in detecting someone who has a fever, some 80% of those infected with coronavirus are asymptomatic.

Public health experts say if the technology gives employees a false sense of security, it could actually cause additional infections.

"There's a good portion of people who have COVID-19 who may not have a fever or may have taken tablets or other medication to reduce their temperature," said Dr. Louis Morledge, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. Morledge went on to stress there is no substitute for the measures that are known to work, including keeping a physical distance, wearing a mask, and regularly washing one's hands.

Privacy experts also have concerns about the new technologies, which will require employees to give a substantial amount of private medical information to their employers for the use of unproven technology.


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