Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019, and is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). COVID-19 is a pandemic with an estimated death rate between 1% and 5%; and an estimated between 2.2 and 6.7 according to various sources. As of March 28th, 2020, there were over 649,000 confirmed cases and 30,249 total deaths, globally. In the United States, there were over 115,500 cases and 1891 deaths and this number is likely to increase rapidly. It is critical to detect clusters of COVID-19 to better allocate resources and improve decision-making as the outbreaks continue to grow. Using daily case data at the county level provided by Johns Hopkins University, we conducted a prospective spatial-temporal analysis with SaTScan. We detect statistically significant space-time clusters of COVID-19 at the county level in the U.S. between January 22nd-March 9th, 2020, and January 22nd-March 27th, 2020. The space-time prospective scan statistic detected “active” and emerging clusters that are present at the end of our study periods – notably, 18 more clusters were detected when adding the updated case data. These timely results can inform public health officials and decision makers about where to improve the allocation of resources, testing sites; also, where to implement stricter quarantines and travel bans. As more data becomes available, the statistic can be rerun to support timely surveillance of COVID-19, demonstrated here. Our research is the first geographic study that utilizes space-time statistics to monitor COVID-19 in the U.S.
It is critical to detect emerging clusters of COVID-19 in the United States.
Prospective space-time scanning statistics can identify “active” clusters.
Results can improve allocation of resources and justify isolation measures.
New data can be added to the statistic daily for timely surveillance of COVID-19.
Geospatial health techniques can improve our knowledge of disease transmission.