Florida city taps 'smart thermometers' to build COVID-19 database

City officials in St. Augustine, Fla., will distribute hundreds of app-connected thermometers to residents to improve coronavirus tracking in the region, ABC News reports.

Led by City Manager John Regan, St. Augustine purchased 600 smart thermometers from healthcare technology Kinsa on March 24. The devices are reportedly expected to arrive in April.

When residents use the thermometers, the raw, de-identified data will be automatically uploaded to an interactive map. In theory, the map will therefore be able to pinpoint potential outbreak "hot spots" in and around St. Augustine.

Though the smart thermometer technology has clear limitations — not only could high temperatures be caused by illnesses other than COVID-19, but many COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic — city officials are still optimistic that the resulting map will give them at least some idea of where to focus their efforts.

"I'm not the only city that has to make decisions with no data," Mr. Regan told ABC News. "Wouldn't it be much better if we had data and we could communicate to people what they could expect as a result of the sacrifices that they're making?"

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