Having diagnosed myself as having a bad cold, but fearful that it may be something worse, I headed to the local drug store to find an upgrade for my “American” 4-inch glass mercury-filled tube thermometer that our family has used for more than 30 years. The drugstore display was bare; sold out! Trips to other pharmacies yielded similar results.
A Google-assisted search confirmed the shortage. In high demand are popular infrared thermometers that enable repetitive, non-contact, rapid readings. Television news reports illustrate the utility of these hand-held devises for the mass-screening in different countries of subjects for forehead temperatures that may be indicative of a fever due to the coronavirus (Covid-19).
Unfortunately, a national medical supply store, that listed 26 different thermometers, issued a disclaimer on March 16 that: “Due to high demand for Medical Thermometers, we are unable to fulfill any orders for these products regardless of stock status indicated on our website.” Other writings have detailed the shortage of thermometers in the US, Australia and India. Thankfully, our glass tube thermometer remained faithful; while resting under my tongue for three minutes, the mercury ran up to and stopped at the black arrow: 98.6 Fahrenheit.