I’m working from home in San Francisco, and the granola bar I had for breakfast wears off just after 12:15 pm. I open up the SpoonRocket app on my phone and select a chicken tamale and a mint smoothie. Six minutes later, there’s a car in my driveway.
I flail to find some flip-flops and go downstairs to greet the driver, who pulls my order from an insulated bag and cooler in his passenger seat. It’s not like he has a whole pantry in there; I picked two of the four items on the SpoonRocket menu that day.
The tamale is $8, the smoothie $6, delivery is included, and it has already been charged to the credit card I loaded into the app. I’m back at my laptop before the clock has ticked past seven minutes. And the tamale? It’s good. But it’s more than I needed to eat for lunch. I resolve to take a walk so I don’t fall into a food coma.
The dangers of the world being delivered to your doorstep.
Airports in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are relying on a familiar tool to stop the spread of Ebola: the thermometer.
Airport staff are measuring the temperature of anyone trying to leave the country, looking for “unexplained febrile illness,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is advising these countries on their exit screening processes.
Other countries that are far from the infected region are screening passengers arriving from West Africa or who have a history of travel to the region. Temperature takers include Russia, Australia and India.
Travelers who exhibit an elevated fever, generally over 101.4 degrees Fahrenheit (though it varies by country), are stopped for further screening. That could mean a questionnaire or medical tests.
Critics of exit screening have pointed out the flaws in using thermometers: fever can lay dormant for two to 21 days in someone who’s been infected with Ebola, and low-grade fevers can be lowered further by simple medications like Tylenol or Advil.
While they can’t predict symptoms before they emerge, the CDC is prepared to thwart those trying to mask a fever with a pill.
"Airline and airport staff are trained to do visual checks of anyone who looks even slightly ill," says Tai Chen, a quarantine medical officer from the CDC who returned from Liberia this past Tuesday. "And most airports are using multiple temperature checks, starting when you arrive on the airport grounds in your car until you get on the plane. Even if you take medication, your fever will likely have manifested by then."
Photo: A Nepalese health worker uses a handheld infrared thermometer on a passenger arriving at Nepal’s only international airport in Kathmandu. (Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images)