Coronavirus prompts Chicago company to shift from preventing gun violence to screening for fevers

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The owner of a local company has shifted their focus from devices that prevent gun violence to devices that could reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Testing is now underway at the University of Illinois Hospital on two devices that check temperatures without contact. The non-contact infrared thermal scanners are distributed by Chicago-based Yates Enterprises.

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"Those light waves hit your body and are reflected back to a sensor, and the sensor determines your temperature," Dr. William Yates explained. "We know that fever is one of the most reliable signs of things we can measure if someone has COVID, so in public places it only makes sense that you would screen for at least temperature."

The company shared video f the scanners in use at Mazzone Pasta in Bloomingdale, checking employees' temperatures before they start their shifts.

"Our employees are the heart and soul of our operation, their safety and security is our priority, we aren't in business without our employees," said Carl Mazzone, of Mazzone Pasta.

Yates Enterprises has been distributing metal detectors and X-ray machines to prevent gun violence in the U.S., but when its manufacturers in China began focusing on thermal scanners, they shifted their business.

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While symptomatic people would not be detected by the scanners, those with a fever would. Yates said they can detect temperature within half a degree of accuracy.

"I think this is going to be a regular part of our society, and for good reason, to check for disease processes which can be devastating, as we all see," he said.

In addition to trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Yates expects to expand his small business, as selling thermal scanners will be an emerging industry from the pandemic.
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