COVID-19 News

FEMA aids reopening with 430K infrared thermometers for COVID-19 screening

The federal government will distribute non-contact infrared thermometers (NCIT) to support phased reopening of the Nation’s workplaces and restarting of the American economy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on May 26.

Under the Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, all employers should implement policies to ensure the safety of their employees and customers, in accordance with federal, state, tribal, and local regulations and guidance throughout all phases of reopening. This includes consulting industry best practices to reduce the risk of occurrence of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. Temperature checks are one important part of an assessment symptom screening process that includes checking for fever. Fever is one of many symptoms to reduce social exposure to individuals who may be exhibiting elevated temperature.

To support the Nation’s safe reopening, the federal government is provisioning an initial supply of non-contact infrared thermometers (NCIT) for businesses and other essential workplaces. NCIT should be used in accordance with CDC guidance for businesses and employers and OSHA guidance for preparing workplaces for identifying potentially ill individuals including employees, customers, vendors or other visitors. NCIT have many benefits but must be used properly to get accurate readings – refer to FDA recommendations on proper use of non-contact infrared thermometers. To help reduce the risk of reemergence, NCIT are intended for businesses with a high degree of person-to-person interaction, which are potential areas of concern for community transmission of the virus. Temperature checks are not effective as a stand-alone because a person with COVID-19 may not have a fever; other measures to reduce potential exposure are also important.

State, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) governments play a critical role in involving the whole community in preparing for the resumption of governmental and private sector functions and recovering from a health and economic crisis. NCIT are being provided to SLTT governments for further distribution to local authorities and businesses based on current conditions and their individual reopening plans and priorities. NCIT have been acquired using HHS supplemental funding, and are being distributed via the Strategic National Stockpile; therefore, their purchase and distribution are not subject to typical Stafford Act prohibitions that would prevent provision to private business entities. SLTT governments have significant flexibility in how to allocate NCIT but must distribute these supplies without discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin (including limited English proficiency), age, sex, disability, or the exercise of religion or conscience, as required by federal civil rights laws. For more information about civil rights and the COVID-19 emergency, visit

The quantities of NCIT allocated for each state, territory and the District of Columbia differ. These total more than 430,000. Additionally, 8,000 NCIT have been initially allocated for tribal nations.

The federal government determined allocation amounts based on the estimated number of private business workplaces in each state with 50 or more employees. This was based on analysis of the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. SLTT governments should apply their own analysis to support distribution.

What to Expect

* FEMA will coordinate initial distribution and delivery to state, territorial and tribal locations in late May 2020.

* Additional NCIT are expected to be available in June. Local governments should make requests of states, with states making requests of FEMA Regions through the FEMA Resource Request Form (RRF) process.

* The initial amount allocated by the federal government is not intended to supply 100 percent of business operations; workplaces with unmet needs will need to pursue, independent of the federal government, the acquisition of additional equipment needed to reopen safely and in line with CDC guidance.

Read more and see the list of allocations by state: