Coronavirus: State Rep. Keller, Butler County, calls daily temperature check invasion of privacy

Coronavirus: State Rep. Keller, Butler County, calls daily temperature check invasion of privacy
State Rep. Candice Keller, R- Butler County (Courtesy/ohiohouse.gov)

COLUMBUS — State Rep. Candice Keller, a Republican who represents Butler County, is refusing to allow Statehouse security to take her temperature and has said the act is an invasion of her privacy.

She described her encounter, which occurred Tuesday, on her Facebook page.

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"I ignored him like always and kept walking. He kept saying, “Ma’am, ma’am, I have to take your temperature.”

I said, “No, you’re not taking my temperature.”

Keller said the security person followed her to an elevator and stood there as though he were going to force her.

"He kept holding the thermometer up in front of me. I turned around and pointed my finger at him and I said, “You’re not taking my temperature!”

He said, “I have to take your temperature.”

I said, “You are not taking my temperature.”

He stepped forward with the thermometer and I pointed at him and said, “You had better not take my temperature. You’ve been warned.”

He said, “I work for the Speaker.”

I said, “I’ve already told the Speaker that no one takes my temperature.”

Keller said someone from Speaker Householder's office told her the encounter would not happen again.

Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, said in a statement that staff, visitors and lawmakers are asked to have their temperatures taken before going upstairs to their offices – a policy enacted May 4. The checks, conducted by House Sergeant at arms staff, also include a question about symptoms.

Those with a high temperature or symptoms of COVID-19 would be asked to leave.

“It is required for staff and visitors to have their temperatures taken and it is offered for members,” Householder told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I cannot mandate elected representatives have their temperatures taken as much as I cannot keep them from coming to the Statehouse to represent the people who elected them.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that businesses conduct daily in-person or virtual health checks, including screening for symptoms and/or a high temperature.

In Ohio, temperature checks are required at childcare facilities and recommended for employees in other settings, such as office work or gyms.

Ohio House policy asks lawmakers to take their temperature before attending session where legislators vote on proposed legislation.

According to the police: “It is strongly suggested that members who have a fever, feel ill, or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 stay home. Sick lawmakers who insist on attending session may vote from a nearby lounge designated as a “quarantined area.”

A fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher is one symptom of the disease. But not all COVID-19 patients have a fever. A high temperature also is a symptom of other illnesses such as the flu.

Keller, in her Facebook post, wrote, “For me, I find this practice highly personal and offensive. The second you try to violate my privacy, I will call you out on it. I don’t care who you are."

She ended the post saying that “tenacity and rugged individualism is about as American as it gets. I don’t back down. You shouldn’t either. Ridiculous.”

Keller’s House term is up at the end of 2020. She recently lost an Ohio Senate bid to Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp.