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.
"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.
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.
"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:
|Imagine Schools At South Lake||Clermont|
|Cranberry Elementary School||North Port|
|Duval Charter School At Southside||Jacksonville|
|Miramar Elementary School||Miramar|
|Rock Springs Elementary||Apopka|
|Mater Palms Academy||Kissimmee|
|Gadsden Elementary Magnet School||Quincy|
|Palmetto Elementary School||Palmetto|
|Spring Hill Elementary School||Spring Hill|
|Lamarque Elementary School||North Port|
|Gulf Beaches Elementary Magnet School||St. Petersburg|
|Grady Elementary School||Tampa|
|Deep Creek Elementary School||Pt Charlotte|
|Crookshank Elementary||St Augustine|
|Webster School||St Augustine|
|Carter G. Woodson Elementary School||Jacksonville|
|Enterprise Learning Academy||Jacksonville|
|Belmont Academy||Lake City|
|J.L. Wilkinson Elementary School||Middleburg|
|Rideout Elementary School||Middleburg|
|Neptune Beach Elementary School||Neptune Beach|
|Academir Charter School West||Miami|
|Citrus Grove Elementary School||Miami|
|St Stephens Episcopal Day School||Miami|
|Union Park Elementary||Orlando|
|Zellwood Elementary School||Zellwood|
|Bunnell Elementary School||Bunnell|
|Reedy Creek Elementary School||Kissimmee|
|Stenstrom Elementary School||Oviedo|
|Apalachicola Bay Charter School||Apalachicola|
|Bethlehem High School||Bonifay|
|Ponce De Leon Elementary School||Ponce De Leon|
|Sneads Elementary School||Sneads|
|Chattahoochee Elementary School||Chattahoochee|
|Trinity Catholic School||Tallahassee|
|Imagine School at North Port||North Port|
|Palm View Elementary School||Palmetto|
|Ballard Elementary School||Bradenton|
|Braden River Elementary School||Bradenton|
|Oneco Elementary School||Bradenton|
|Bailey Elementary School||Dover|
|Gilbert W Mcneal Elementary School||Lakewood Ranch|
|Robert Willis Elementary School||Lakewood Ranch|
|First Christian Academy||New Port Richey|
|Moon Lake Elementary School||New Port Richey|
|Blackburn Elementary School||Palmetto|
|Pepin Academies - Riverview Campus||Riverview|
|Fairmount Park Elementary School||St Petersburg|
|Oak Grove Elementary School||Tampa|
|Renaissance Charter School At Wellington||Wellington|
|Wahneta Elementary School||Winter Haven|
|Garden of the Sahaba Academy||Boca Raton|
|Crystal Lakes Elementary||Boynton Beach|
|Pioneer Park Elementary School||Belle Glade|
|Lake Park Elementary School||Lake Park|
|Queen Of Peace Catholic Academy||Gainesville|
|Biltmore Elementary School||Jacksonville|
|Joe Hall Elementary School||Miami|
|Renaissance Charter At Crown Point||Ocoee|
|Bayshore Elementary School||Bradenton|
|Eastside Elementary School||Brooksville|
|Horizons Elementary School||Davenport|
|Bethune Academy||Haines City|
|Sarasota Academy Of The Arts||Sarasota|
|Lowry Elementary School||Tampa|
|Baldwin Park Elementary||Orlando|
|Lake Eola Charter||Orlando|