Employers turn to thermometers as detection tool for employee illness

At Walmart and Amazon facilities across the country, hundreds of thousands of employees will soon get their temperature taken when they report to work. Home Depot is giving its employees thermometers and asking them to check for a fever at home. Starbucks is sending thermometers to stores to allow employees to do voluntary self-monitoring. And grocery delivery company Instacart is distributing a health and safety kit to its contract workers, including a reusable cloth face mask, hand sanitizer and thermometer.

In the U.S., the pandemic’s outlook has become more dire. There are at least 278,458 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. On Tuesday, White House officials projected there would be between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the U.S.

Grocers and essential retailers have changed the way they operate and added more safety precautions, from handing out hand sanitizer to installing plexiglass screens. They have been criticized, in some cases, by workers who say they’re not doing enough. And the companies have been directly affected by the pandemic, too, as some of their own employees have gotten sick, and they’ve had to close and clean warehouses and stores.