Geographic Targeting of COVID-19 Testing to Maximize Detection in Los Angeles County

Open Forum Infect Dis. 2023 Jun 27;10(7):ofad331. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofad331. eCollection 2023 Jul.


Background: Many severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infections have not been detected, reported, or isolated. For community testing programs to locate the most cases under limited testing resources, we developed and evaluated quantitative approaches for geographic targeting of increased coronavirus disease 2019 testing efforts.

Methods: For every week from December 5, 2021, to July 23, 2022, testing and vaccination data were obtained in ∼340 cities/communities in Los Angeles County, and models were developed to predict which cities/communities would have the highest test positivity 2 weeks ahead. A series of counterfactual scenarios were constructed to explore the additional number of cases that could be detected under targeted testing.

Results: The simplest model based on most recent test positivity performed nearly as well as the best model based on most recent test positivity and weekly tests per 100 persons in identifying communities that would maximize the average yield of cases per test in the following 2 weeks and almost as well as the perfect knowledge of the actual positivity 2 weeks ahead. In the counterfactual scenario, increasing testing by 1% 2 weeks ahead and allocating all tests to communities with the top 10% of predicted positivity would yield a 2% increase in detected cases.

Conclusions: Simple models based on current test positivity can predict which communities may have the highest positivity 2 weeks ahead and hence could be allocated with more testing resources.

Keywords: COVID-19; community testing.