Survey Shows Skepticism In U.S. On Accuracy Of Non-Contact Temperature Screenings For COVID-19 And Its Variants

| August 10, 2021

Americans Want Accuracy in Public Temperature Screenings

A new national online survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the Exergen Corporation shows that over two-thirds of Americans (68%) want thermometers to be used in public spaces to screening for COVID-19 and its variants during cold and flu season this upcoming fall and winter. However, more than one-third of Americans (36%) think non-contact thermometers used for public screening of COVID-19 and its variants are inaccurate, and three in five American adults (60%) said they would not recommend that their friends and/or family members enter establishments that screen with thermometers if they knew that the devices being used were inaccurate.

“The fact that so many people already know that non-contact thermometers are inaccurate is reassuring. Yet the fact that so many others still mistakenly believe they are accurate is deeply troubling, as they have been proven time and again to be completely inaccurate. Companies and organizations that use them for public screenings are being negligent at a time when nothing matters more than taking an accurate temperature reading,” said Francesco Pompei, Ph.D., CEO of Exergen Corporation. “Screening with a non-contact thermometer is pure theater, and will cause many to refuse to enter the establishment.”

The survey findings correlate with a recent study1 published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM) that shows a disturbing disconnect between its conclusion that non-contact thermometers used to screen for fever at the workplace are largely inaccurate, and a conviction among senior management that nevertheless, the illusion of screenings has value.
A companion consumer survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the Exergen Corporation provides more insights into Americans’ concerns about accurate temperature screenings, with the vast majority (80%) saying it is important that public temperature readings be accurate so that people who might transmit COVID-19 and its variants be prevented from entering the premises.
Other notable findings are:

• Nearly all Americans (83%) believe that public establishments have a responsibility to use an accurate device when doing temperature screenings for COVID-19 and its variants.
• If they knew that non-contact devices used to take temperatures were inaccurate, nearly half (45%) of Americans would not enter a public place that screens with them because there may be people inside who could transmit COVID-19 and its variants.

“Americans expect and deserve to get an accurate temperature reading before walking into a public establishment. As we head into cold and flu season, and with COVID and its variants escalating, we can’t afford to have this dangerous practice of non-contact temperature screening to continue,” said Pompei.

The two surveys were conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Exergen from July 20-22, 2021, among 2,058 adults ages 18 and older and July 13-15, 2021, among 2,076 adults ages 18 and older. These online surveys are not based on a probability sample, and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact

1 Stave et al. Worksite Temperature Screening for COVID-19. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2021 April 8. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000002245


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