Temperature readings in smart thermometers can offer predictors of potential outbreaks of COVID-19

Kinsa recording fever spike in Floridians ages 61+
Posted at 4:52 AM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 07:49:23-05

TAMPA, Fla. — A company that makes smart thermometers says they've seen a recent spike in fevers in Floridians over the age of 61 and now says this trend could signify a potential outbreak in illness within the next few weeks, including COVID-19.

For months, temperature checks have been the norm as a measure to fight COVID-19, especially in doctor's offices, schools and childcare facilities.

At KidsPark Oldsmar, a childcare facility in Pinellas County, it's standard procedure.

"We check the temperature on their name tag and it's checked every hour," according to Lisa Bradley who is the director of KidsPark Oldsmar.

The Centers for Disease Control lists a fever as anything 100 point 4 degrees and above and considers it one of the leading symptoms of COVID-19.

But not everyone who has a fever has COVID-19 and not everyone with COVID-19 has a fever. So what can a temperature reading really tell us?

Kinsa, a company that tracks illness through smart thermometers, said it can show us a lot, based on data.

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"We've essentially taken one of the most common things you find in your medicine cabinet, the thermometer, and turned it into a two-way communication device," said Jane Putnam, director of communications for Kinsa.

Kinsa is an early warning system to detect and respond to contagious illness. Through a network of millions of smart thermometers, that sends your temperature back to the company every time you take it, Kinsa says they can track the spread of illness in real-time and forecasts future outbreaks.

They say they did it before in New York City in March 2020, with their smart thermometers registering a spike in fevers 18 days before a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Kinsa said their data provided a three-week leading indicator of COVID-19 in March in New York City by aggregating data from a network of smart thermometers in use.

But now, a troubling new trend has emerged. With around 100,000 Kinsa smart thermometers in Florida, the system is now seeing a recent spike in fevers in older residents.

New data shows a steep increase in the number of elderly Floridians experiencing a fever, an early symptom of COVID and also a common reaction to the vaccine. This data comes from Kinsa, a public health + technology company who's data provided a 3-week leading indicator of COVID-19 in March in New York City.

"You can see that actually started trending lower in January, but now especially in that 61+ audience, we're seeing it go way up a steep increase," Putnam said.

With fever being a symptom of COVID-19, the flu and the vaccine, it's unclear exactly what this spike could mean, but Kinsa says it's something they're tracking closely.

"It's not going to be 100 percent," Putnam said. "But it's a leading indicator of where illness is going to increase. So then we, as families or communities, can take action to stop the spread."

More than 75 Florida schools, including several in the Tampa Bay area, are also participating in a school health program that uses smart thermometers to track and help stop the spread of illness, including the flu and COVID-19.

These schools have been accepted into the Lysol + Kinsa FLUency health program, where all families receive free Kinsa smart thermometers and can see aggregate, anonymous information on any symptoms and illnesses going around the school.

These early insights help nurses act with real-time data in order to stop an outbreak before it happens, according to Kinsa.

Here's a partial list of participating Florida schools:

School NameCity
Imagine Schools At South LakeClermont
Cranberry Elementary SchoolNorth Port
Duval Charter School At SouthsideJacksonville
Miramar Elementary SchoolMiramar
Rock Springs ElementaryApopka
Mater Palms AcademyKissimmee
Gadsden Elementary Magnet SchoolQuincy
Palmetto Elementary SchoolPalmetto
Spring Hill Elementary SchoolSpring Hill
Lamarque Elementary SchoolNorth Port
Gulf Beaches Elementary Magnet SchoolSt. Petersburg
Grady Elementary SchoolTampa
Deep Creek Elementary SchoolPt Charlotte
Crookshank ElementarySt Augustine
Webster SchoolSt Augustine
Carter G. Woodson Elementary SchoolJacksonville
Enterprise Learning AcademyJacksonville
Belmont AcademyLake City
J.L. Wilkinson Elementary SchoolMiddleburg
Rideout Elementary SchoolMiddleburg
Neptune Beach Elementary SchoolNeptune Beach
Academir Charter School WestMiami
Citrus Grove Elementary SchoolMiami
St Stephens Episcopal Day SchoolMiami
Bonneville ElementaryOrlando
Union Park ElementaryOrlando
Zellwood Elementary SchoolZellwood
Altoona SchoolAltoona
Bunnell Elementary SchoolBunnell
Reedy Creek Elementary SchoolKissimmee
Dommerich ElementaryMaitland
Shenandoah ElementaryOrlando
Stenstrom Elementary SchoolOviedo
Apalachicola Bay Charter SchoolApalachicola
Bethlehem High SchoolBonifay
Ponce De Leon Elementary SchoolPonce De Leon
Sneads Elementary SchoolSneads
Chattahoochee Elementary SchoolChattahoochee
Trinity Catholic SchoolTallahassee
Imagine School at North PortNorth Port
Palm View Elementary SchoolPalmetto
Ballard Elementary SchoolBradenton
Braden River Elementary SchoolBradenton
Oneco Elementary SchoolBradenton
Bailey Elementary SchoolDover
Gilbert W Mcneal Elementary SchoolLakewood Ranch
Robert Willis Elementary SchoolLakewood Ranch
First Christian AcademyNew Port Richey
Moon Lake Elementary SchoolNew Port Richey
Blackburn Elementary SchoolPalmetto
Pepin Academies - Riverview CampusRiverview
Fairmount Park Elementary SchoolSt Petersburg
Oak Grove Elementary SchoolTampa
Pepin AcademiesTampa
Renaissance Charter School At WellingtonWellington
Wahneta Elementary SchoolWinter Haven
Garden of the Sahaba AcademyBoca Raton
Crystal Lakes ElementaryBoynton Beach
Pioneer Park Elementary SchoolBelle Glade
Lake Park Elementary SchoolLake Park
Queen Of Peace Catholic AcademyGainesville
Biltmore Elementary SchoolJacksonville
Joe Hall Elementary SchoolMiami
Renaissance Charter At Crown PointOcoee
Wedgefield SchoolOrlando
Bayshore Elementary SchoolBradenton
Eastside Elementary SchoolBrooksville
Horizons Elementary SchoolDavenport
Bethune AcademyHaines City
Sarasota Academy Of The ArtsSarasota
Lowry Elementary SchoolTampa
Wetherbee ElementaryOrlando
Baldwin Park ElementaryOrlando
Lake Eola CharterOrlando
Passport SchoolOrlando