Expanding Access to COVID-19 Tests

Expanding Access to COVID-19 Tests through US Postal Service Facilities

Paper: Expanding Access to COVID-19 Tests through US Postal Service Facilities

Authors: Bismark Singh, Simon Risanger, David Morton, Michael Pignone, Lauren Ancel Meyers

Link to Paper: SAGE

Widespread, convenient access to COVID-19 testing has been challenging in the United States. We make a case for provisioning COVID-19 tests through the United States Postal Service (USPS) facilities and demonstrate a simple method for selecting locations to improve access. We provide quantitative evidence that even a subset of USPS facilities could provide broad access, particularly in remote and at-risk communities with limited access to health care. Based on daily travel surveys, census data, locations of USPS facilities, and an established care-seeking model, we estimate that more than 94% of the US population would be willing to travel to an existing USPS facility if warranted. For half of the US population, this would require traveling less than 2.5 miles from home; for 90%, the distance would be less than 7 miles. In Georgia, Illinois, and Minnesota, we estimate that testing at USPS facilities would provide access to an additional 4.1, 3.1, and 1.3 million people and reduce the median travel distance by 3.0, 0.8, and 1.2 miles, respectively, compared with existing testing sites per 28 July 2020. We also discuss the option of distributing test-at-home kits via USPS instead of private carriers. Finally, our proposal provides USPS an opportunity to increase revenues and expand its mission, thus improving its future prospects and relevance.