Spatial-temporal relationship between population mobility and COVID-19 outbreaks in south carolina: Time series forecasting analysis

Chengbo Zeng, Jiajia Zhang, Zhenlong Li, Xiaowen Sun, Bankole Olatosi, Sharon Weissman, Xiaoming Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Population mobility is closely associated with COVID-19 transmission, and it could be used as a proximal indicator to predict future outbreaks, which could inform proactive nonpharmaceutical interventions for disease control. South Carolina is one of the US states that reopened early, following which it experienced a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. Objective: The aims of this study are to examine the spatial-temporal relationship between population mobility and COVID-19 outbreaks and use population mobility data to predict daily new cases at both the state and county level in South Carolina. Methods: This longitudinal study used disease surveillance data and Twitter-based population mobility data from March 6 to November 11, 2020, in South Carolina and its five counties with the largest number of cumulative confirmed COVID-19 cases. Population mobility was assessed based on the number of Twitter users with a travel distance greater than 0.5 miles. A Poisson count time series model was employed for COVID-19 forecasting. Results: Population mobility was positively associated with state-level daily COVID-19 incidence as well as incidence in the top five counties (ie, Charleston, Greenville, Horry, Spartanburg, and Richland). At the state level, the final model with a time window within the last 7 days had the smallest prediction error, and the prediction accuracy was as high as 98.7%, 90.9%, and 81.6% for the next 3, 7, and 14 days, respectively. Among Charleston, Greenville, Horry, Spartanburg, and Richland counties, the best predictive models were established based on their observations in the last 9, 14, 28, 20, and 9 days, respectively. The 14-day prediction accuracy ranged from 60.3%-74.5%. Conclusions: Using Twitter-based population mobility data could provide acceptable predictions of COVID-19 daily new cases at both the state and county level in South Carolina. Population mobility measured via social media data could inform proactive measures and resource relocations to curb disease outbreaks and their negative influences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere27045
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Informatics

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