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Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment allows his face to be scanned inside the lobby of the governmental complex in Gonzales after he had taken off his mask in an undated video from parish government. The parish recently installed new temperature scanners, the tablet-like device at center, to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment takes off his mask in the front lobby of the parish governmental complex in Gonzales after he had leaned his face toward the slick, tablet-looking device standing at the corner of the receptionist's desk.

The device assesses his face, and a pre-recorded, robotic voice responds: "Please wear … mask."

Given the autonomous warning, Cointment, whom the device had already told had "normal temperature," put his mask back on.

The parish president recently made the demonstration in a government video about new temperature scanner kiosks and other equipment that parish government has placed in its buildings to help tamp down the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The scanners take people's temperature as they enter government buildings but also offer a check for those who show up without a mask on, parish officials said. The scanners can measure a person’s temperature from a distance of 1 to 2 feet.

Parish government bought the 15 scanners, hand sanitizer and dispensers, and foggers that can blast disinfectant into government buildings if there is an outbreak. 

Ricky Compton, director of planning and facilities management who spearheaded the project along with other parish departments, said the scanners have been placed "at multiple facilities across the parish."

“They are placed where the public mostly interacts with us,” he added in a statement.

Parish government has had some coronavirus cases since the virus first appeared that have forced some employees and top parish officials to self-quarantine. Parish and other local officials also didn't initially embrace mask mandates — instead strongly encouraging their use — until the state mandate took effect.

The scanners and other equipment were bought with an $80,050 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice under the CARES Act, one of Congress's attempts to fund the nation's response to the viral outbreak that has resulted in nearly 7.3 million cases and killed nearly 208,000 people since March. 

Through Friday, Ascension Parish had more than 3,800 cases and 98 deaths since March. Both are trending downward since a mid-summer peak, state health data say.

Cointment credited former Parish President Tommy Martinez, an aide to U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., with notifying the parish about the grant opportunity. 

In the video, Cointment notes the scanners don't just look "cool" but also work to keep employees who interact with the public safer. Employees don't have to come into close contact with persons who enter parish buildings and may be ill.

"It saves a person from being put in harm's way," he said.

The parish video about the temperature scanners can be seen at: https://youtu.be/IywcLXnV0Is.


Email David J. Mitchell at dmitchell@theadvocate.com

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