Design of COVID-19 Testing Queues

Production and Operations Management, Forthcoming

62 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2020 Last revised: 12 Jan 2022

See all articles by Luyi Yang

Luyi Yang

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Shiliang Cui

Georgetown University - McDonough School of Business

Zhongbin Wang

Tianjin University - College of Management and Economics

Date Written: October 1, 2020

Abstract

In the event of a virus outbreak such as COVID-19, testing is key. However, long waiting lines at testing facilities often discourage individuals from getting tested. This paper utilizes queueing-game-theoretic models to study how testing facilities should set scheduling and pricing policies to incentivize individuals to test, with the goal to identify the most cases of infection. Our findings are as follows. First, under the first-in-first-out discipline (FIFO), the common practice of making testing free attracts the most testees, but may not catch the most cases. Charging a testing fee may surprisingly increase case detection. Second, even though people who show symptoms are more likely to carry the virus, prioritizing these individuals over asymptomatic ones (another common practice) may let more cases go undetected than FIFO testing does. Third, we characterize the optimal scheduling and pricing policy. To maximize case detection, {testing can be made free, but one should also (partially) prioritize individuals with symptoms when testing demand is high and switch to (partially) prioritizing the asymptomatic when testing demand is moderately low.

Keywords: COVID-19, testing, queues, service discipline, priority

Suggested Citation

Yang, Luyi and Cui, Shiliang and Wang, Zhongbin, Design of COVID-19 Testing Queues (October 1, 2020). Production and Operations Management, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3722022 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3722022

Luyi Yang

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Shiliang Cui (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - McDonough School of Business ( email )

3700 O Street, NW
Washington, DC 20057
United States

Zhongbin Wang

Tianjin University - College of Management and Economics ( email )

NO.92 Weijin Road
Nankai District
Tianjin, 300072
China

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
326
Abstract Views
1,942
rank
127,569
PlumX Metrics