It used to be that people didn’t want to have a scarlet “A” on their clothes, and, soon, Guilford County citizens who wish to enter a county building won’t want to have a scarlet dot on their head that could also cause them to be shunned like Hester Prynne.

Last week, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners got more information on a Dell thermal vision camera system that will surveil people entering county buildings and show staff monitoring the computer images whether a person is running a fever.

At the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Thursday, Aug. 6 meeting, the board approved the new system which will be put in place in a half dozen key county buildings that are used heavily by the public.

A team of county officials recently visited a Novant health facility that uses the system and that helped sell the Board of Commissioners on the wisdom of getting the system for the county.

Guilford County government, like many other local governments across the country, is investing a great deal in technology meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and any other threats that may be seen in future pandemics.

One factor in the board’s decision was the somewhat amazing accuracy of the system. At the meeting, Guilford County Information Technology Director Hemant Desai said the thermo-imaging was extremely reliable.

“The beauty of the system is that it takes less than a second and there is less than .1 degree error,” Desai told the commissioners.

The system will instantly reveal to those monitoring the entrances on computers, phones or tablets, which visitors are running a temperature – one sign that they may have coronavirus.

“It basically places a red mark literally on their head,” Desai told the board.

The system, which includes 21 cameras and smart software to alert staff when someone coming in hot, is costing taxpayers about $420,000.

The county hasn’t yet adopted a policy as to how it will deal with people who are found to have a temperature while attempting to enter a county building.