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Do fever checks actually detect the coronavirus?

Temperature checks are used at schools and businesses. But they only tell half the story

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Rikki Gerrard, a registered nurse, checks Mary Gallegos’ temperature as she arrives to visit her son at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. Intermountain requires all visitors and patients to wear a mask, sanitize their hands and get a temperature check upon arrival.

Rikki Gerrard, a registered nurse, checks Mary Gallegos’ temperature as she arrives to visit her son at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. Intermountain requires all visitors and patients to wear a mask, sanitize their hands and get a temperature check upon arrival.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Businesses, schools and other groups have added temperature checks to help detect the coronavirus in visitors, students and consumers. But fever screenings may only tell half the story, according to a new study.

What’s happening:

  • A new University of Southern California study warns that fever and temperature screenings “could lead to a false sense of security,” NBC News reports.
  • The study found fever to be the first symptom of the novel coronavirus. Cough, nausea, vomiting and gastrointestinal symptoms follow thereafter.
  • But again — fevers are a symptom, which means asymptomatic people won’t be caught all the time.

  • NBC News said: “While a temperature check can detect people who are showing symptoms, there are a significant number of people who could be contagious that don’t develop a fever.”

Symptoms order recently discovered

USC researchers said they’ve recently found an order of symptoms for the novel coronavirus, which could help health care workers identify cases sooner rather than later.

The new findings suggest the following order is most common for patients:

  • Fever.
  • Cough and muscle pain.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.