By Raetta Holdman

(CBS4) – Temperature checks have become commonplace as doctors’ offices and other businesses screen for COVID-19, however they may not be the most reliable indicator of coronavirus. CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida talked about the problem on CBSN Denver this week.

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“If you take at look at the people who have COVID-19, only about half do develop a fever,” he explained. “If they, in fact, do develop symptoms, the amount of time they actually do have a fever is a very short window of time so you really don’t catch a lot of cases just by pure temperature screening.”

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He pointed out if someone is symptomatic and very ill, they should not be going out — and asymptomatic people will not have a fever.

Hnida did say there is work underway to develop mass screening tools, like a scratch-and-sniff test being worked on at the University of Colorado.

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“Many people with COVID, even without symptoms, do lose some sense of smell,” he said, “even though it is subtle.”

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“The problem with using something like that on a wide scale basis is that many older people as well as people with chronic allergies, they naturally lose some sense of smell so the test would be extremely inaccurate for them.”

Hnida said he believes a better answer will be a rapid saliva test, one where you could do a quick spit test before someone entered a build. But he also said common sense plays a role.

“If you are ill, in any way, shape or form, you really do need to stay out public places, whether you’re going to work, whether you’re going to a store, you’re going to school — there does need to be a sense of personal responsibility.”

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“No matter what your illness is, whether it’s COVID-19 or some other infectious disease, you simply should not be present in a public location.”

Raetta Holdman