Selecting pharmacies for COVID-19 testing

Selecting pharmacies for COVID-19 testing to ensure access

Preprint: Selecting pharmacies for COVID-19 testing to ensure access

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

Link to Preprint: medRxiv

Abstract: 
Rapid diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is key to guiding social distancing orders and containing emerging disease clusters by contact tracing and isolation. However, communities throughout the US do not yet have adequate access to tests. Pharmacies are already engaged in testing, but there is capacity to greatly increase coverage. Using a facility location optimization model and willingness-to-travel estimates from US National Household Travel Survey data, we find that if COVID-19 testing became available in all US pharmacies, an estimated 94% of the US population would be willing to travel to obtain a test, if warranted. Whereas the largest chain provides high coverage in densely populated states, like Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut, independent pharmacies would be required for sufficient coverage in Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming. If only 1,000 pharmacies in the US are selected to provide testing, judicious selection, using our optimization model, provides estimated access to 29 million more people than selecting pharmacies simply based on population density. COVID-19 testing through pharmacies can improve access across the US. Even if only few pharmacies offer testing, judicious selection of specific sites can simplify logistics and improve access.