Walmart announces it will conduct temperature checks for employees due to COVID-19

As a new health and safety measure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Walmart will begin to use infrared thermometers to check the temperatures of its employees before they report to work, the company said in a press release.

Employees who have a temperature above 100.0 degrees will still be paid for reporting to work, Walmart said, but asked to return home and seek medical treatment if so required.

“The associate will not be able to return to work until they are fever-free for at least three days,” the company said in the release.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person is considered to have a fever “when he or she has a measured temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or greater, or feels warm to the touch, or gives a history of feeling feverish.“

The company is now in the process of sending infrared to its 5,000+ locations, which could take up to three weeks. Stores would also make gloves and N95 masks available to associates who want them as suppliest premit.

The new temperature checks signal how brands and retailers across the country are adjusting their regular processes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trader Joe’s, a national grocery store chain, has reportedly adopted social distancing measures at in efforts to help keep shoppers and workers safe. Other local and national retailers and restaurants have adjusted their hours, modified their services or have closed down completely amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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In March, the White House started to conduct temperature checks for individuals who come in close vicinity of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. 

Temperature checks, though, have not been a commonplace measure of helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across the United States as they have in other parts of the world. 

In Hong Kong, temperature checks of customers at offices and restaurants is fairly common, according to The Guardian. Temperature screenings have also been common in Singapore, a country with less than 1,000 confirmed cases, as of March 31.

While temperature checks could potentially be helpful in preventing the larger spread of COVID-19, there is still the issue of individuals who have contracted the virus but are asymptomatic, meaning they show no symptoms. 

Additionally, someone who has contracted COVID-19 may not show signs of symptoms, such as a fever, for up to 14 days after they have been initially infected. 

Public health experts have estimated the U.S. should be testing between 100,000 and 150,000 patients daily to track and contain the virus.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the U.S. is testing “nearly 100,000 samples per day."

This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed to this story.