According to Guilford County Information Services Director Hemant Desai, a new program implemented by Guilford County to remotely detect elevated temperatures in visitors to county buildings is working well and should be expanded.

This fall, as one of many efforts by the county to address the coronavirus pandemic, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of an ultra-accurate, high-tech camera system that monitors everyone entering county buildings and shows their temperature.

A high temperature isn’t a certain sign that someone has COVID-19, but it is a symptom. So, for the time being, anyone with a fever attempting to enter a county building is being told politely that they aren’t welcome.

“So far, we have asked hundreds of people to leave thanks to the cameras,” Desai said.

           He said the system has been a very effective and accurate tool that’s made a big difference at places like the county’s two courthouses where a very large number of visitors frequent each weekday.

According to Hemant, there have only been a few false positives for elevated temperatures.

When does that happen? When people are coming in and holding a cup of hot coffee up to their face when the camera takes their temperature.

Desai said that the county had had a couple of instances of that type of mistake, but otherwise the cameras were working as planned.

The Dell thermal-vision camera system initially cost the county $420,000 for about 20 cameras this summer, but the county is planning on adding more cameras now. At a Board of Commissioners meeting earlier this month, county staff stated that the cameras are being put to use as overall security cameras as well as for Covid-19 detection and stated that, even after the pandemic is over, the county will benefit from having the cameras in place.

In many cases, county services now can be provided online and over the phone and staff in all departments is attempting to meet people’s needs in alternative ways given the requirement of social distancing.