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Palm Coast Tuesday, Mar. 16, 2021 1 month ago

As vaccinations rise, county eases back on temperature checks at some facilities

Commissioner David Sullivan, noting that temperature checks have ceased at the library and Tax Collector's Office, suggested ending them at the county's Government Services Building as well.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

With over 25% of the county's population vaccinated for COVID-19, the county library and Tax Collector's Office have halted temperature checks at their entrances, and County Commissioner David Sullivan has proposed ending them at the county Government Services Building on State Road 100 as well.

"At some point we have to start working our way back to normalcy. ... The temperature check seems to be a burden to people who have to do their job, and it slows things down."


— DAVID SULLIVAN, county commissioner

"I totally agree that the masks, social distancing should remain in place," he said at a March 16 commission meeting, "but we already now — with the Tax Collector's Office and the library — have stopped doing the temperature checks." He noted that temperature readings indicating a fever have been rare.

"To have everybody checked for temperature coming in and out, I would think we're at the point, based on statistics, where it's not an effective measure," he said. "And I think we can make things a little bit easier to, at some point, remove that temperature check — I would hope maybe by the end of the month."

The Government Services Building is the center of the county government's administration and also houses the administration of Flagler Schools. The main entry area is usually staffed with an employee or a contracted guard who checks entrants' temperature and issues person a wrist band as they walk in. The process sometimes causes short lines.

County Administrator Jerry Cameron told the commission that as far as he was aware, there have been no people flagged for a high temperature at the Government Services Building's back entrance, and three flagged at its front entrance, in the last year.

He called on the county's emergency Management director, Jonathan Lord, for more information. 

"With the CDC guidance, the temperature check is still one of the tools they list ... to help limit spreading in the workplace," Lord said. "However, I will be the first to admit — and I've even spoken with the Health Department about it — it's probably the least effective of the tools, because temperature is not the best indicator of whether someone has COVID-19 or not."

Emergency Management had spoken with the county's constitutional officers about whether to cease temperature checks at their facilities, Lord said.

Most didn't object to stopping the checks. One wanted them to stay in place.

"Another," Lord said, "shared really good language which I kind of liked, which was, 'It's not bothering anybody; why change it now?'"

Lord suggested making the determination building-by-building.

"However, I think the temperature check does provide your staff, as well as the constitutional officers' staff, with a little bit more psychological comfort working inside of one of your facilities," he added. "Just an anecdote from just talking to folks is they just feel more comfortable because that's happened. But as I shared also, it is the least effective of the tools that the CDC recommends."

Sullivan said removing the checks would be a way of showing that the county's been responding to the virus effectively.

"At some point we have to start working our way back to normalcy, and to me the temperature check is one of the minimum things that can be done to just show that progress is being made, and the county is doing a good job," Sullivan said. "... I just want to start to look hard at what we're doing to make people feel good, as opposed to what is really effective. I'm not saying anything about the masks. I'm just saying the temperature check seems to be a burden to people who have to do their job, and it slows things down."

Commissioners did not make a decision on Sullivan's proposal at the meeting.


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