Adaptive Sentinel Testing in Workplace for COVID-19 Pandemic.

Document Type


Publication Date



JGM, Humans, COVID-19, Pandemics, SARS-CoV-2, Workplace

JAX Source

J Comput Biol. 2023;30(4):376-90.







This work was funded by the Jackson Laboratory.


Testing and isolation of infectious employees is one of the critical strategies to make the workplace safe during the pandemic for many organizations. Adaptive testing frequency reduces cost while keeping the pandemic under control at the workplace. However, most models aimed at estimating test frequencies were structured for municipalities or large organizations such as university campuses of highly mobile individuals. By contrast, the workplace exhibits distinct characteristics: employee positivity rate may be different from the local community because of rigorous protective measures at workplace, or self-selection of co-workers with common behavioral tendencies for adherence to pandemic mitigation guidelines. Moreover, dual exposure to COVID-19 occurs at work and home that complicates transmission modeling, as does transmission tracing at the workplace. Hence, we developed bi-modal SEIR (Susceptible, Exposed, Infectious, and Removed) model and R-shiny tool that accounts for these differentiating factors to adaptively estimate the testing frequency for workplace. Our tool uses easily measurable parameters: community incidence rate, risks of acquiring infection from community and workplace, workforce size, and sensitivity of testing. Our model is best suited for moderate-sized organizations with low internal transmission rates, no-outward facing employees whose position demands frequent in-person interactions with the public, and low to medium population positivity rates. Simulations revealed that employee behavior in adherence to protective measures at work and in their community, and the onsite workforce size have large effects on testing frequency. Reducing workplace transmission rate through workplace mitigation protocols and higher sensitivity of the test deployed, although to a lesser extent. Furthermore, our simulations showed that sentinel testing leads to only marginal increase in the number of infections even for high community incidence rates, suggesting that this may be a cost-effective approach in future pandemics. We used our model to accurately guide testing regimen for three campuses of the Jackson Laboratory.