(FLORIDA) — St. Augustine, Florida, has a new weapon in the war against the COVID-19 pandemic: smart thermometers.
The city’s economy is dependent on visitors, from tourists to spring breakers, city manager John Regan tells ABC News, so when he started canceling events in the face of the health crisis, local business owners wanted to know why. At that time, his county had just 20 confirmed coronavirus cases.
“So we’re ruining businesses in this process to save lives,” he acknowledged, adding, “But how can you not default to the public health position?”
So Regan found a high-tech solution. Since a fever is usually one of tell-tale signs of the illness, he struck a deal with Kinsa, a Silicon Valley-based health technology firm. They sell Internet-connected personal thermometers that can create a crowd-sourced “fever map,” to track, in real-time, who is spiking a temperature and where.
The thermometers are matched with an app that not only lets users track trends in their own temperature, but the info then gets compiled — minus personal data — by the company to determine temperature trends.
ABC News reports Regan bought 600 thermometers from Kinsa to distribute throughout the city of 15,000.
Inder Singh, Kinsa’s founder and chief executive, tells ABC News that his company has more than one million thermometers in circulation; while most are sold on Amazon, the company has donated them to low-income schools.
Similarly, researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital launched a website called Covidnearyou.org for its own map. The University of California San Francisco also looked to another high-tech company, the fitness tracker Oura, to try to see if its data could also detect coronavirus trends.
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