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Southwest Will Test Thermal Cameras to Spot Fevers

Health officials warn that it would not detect people who have COVID-19 but show no symptoms.

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DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines will test thermal cameras for spotting people with fevers beginning next month at the Dallas airport as it tries to convince people to fly during the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Wednesday.

The trial could run up to three months, but readings captured by the cameras won’t be linked to individual travelers, said officials with the city and the Dallas-based airline.

The trial will evaluate the cameras, where equipment should be placed, and how thermal screening would affect traffic flows at security checkpoints at Dallas Love Field.

Southwest said it and city representatives will then decide on additional testing. The airline did not say when readings could be tied to individuals. A spokesman said that the airline will tell customers and employees about any changes to current procedures at the airport.

Scott Halfmann, the airline’s vice president of safety and security, said the test “could be an important, additional layer of precaution that Southwest can offer customers,” which he said is especially important during the virus pandemic.

The Transportation Safety Administration is considering taking passengers’ temperatures at other airports. Airlines like the idea, but health officials warn that it would not detect people who have COVID-19 but don’t show symptoms. COVID-19 is the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

The city of Dallas owns Love Field, and Southwest controls most of the gates at its hometown airport.

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