I was very tempted to answer Suggestions for reducing the transmission rate? with the following. In fact I did, but I deleted it again, because I do realize that there is nothing mathematical in my answer, and it goes into a completely different direction than what was actually asked for in the body of the question.

However, I do think it may be an important factoid. I really couldn't believe at first that what I describe below was reality.

I have no idea where this fits, or if it fits anywhere at all. I am not asking a question here, but I feel obliged to share it.

I have one rather practical answer, which does not answer the question in the body, but possibly in the title.

I was very surprised to learn that a (small) hospital in my home town was doing their scheduling ("rostering" might be the correct term, but I don't know) by hand.

They were clever enough to ask for help just in time. Again surprisingly: informally via a mathematician they knew privately. Thus, they now have a professional university team developing a plan that fits their new needs - minimal service, minimizing the probability that a large portion of their staff simultaneously drops out.

I guess that such a strategy might also make sense for other community services, who might not even be aware of this fact.

(Disclaimer: I am not helping with the implementation, but I was lucky to know someone who knew someone who was a professional in this field, who luckily agreed to do it.)

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I don't want to discuss this particular example, but I think it is commonly accepted to post an answer, which doesn't answer the question but provides useful related information, if it's explicit from the beginning. For instance a number of answers start with "An extended comment", or "A partial answer", and one can imagine other variants. It's likely to be upvoted if useful, and downvoted if unrelated or not useful. $\endgroup$
    – YCor
    Mar 27, 2020 at 15:02


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