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Prominent Spatiotemporal Waves of COVID-19 Incidence in the United States: Implications for Causality, Forecasting, and Control

By Hawre Jalal, Kyueun Lee, Donald S. Burke

Posted 03 Jul 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.06.29.21259726

Better understanding of the spatiotemporal structure of the COVID-19 epidemic in the USA may help inform more effective prevention and control strategies. By analyzing daily COVID-19 case data in the United States, Mexico and Canada, we found four continental-scale epidemic wave patterns, including travelling waves, that spanned multiple state and even international boundaries. These major epidemic patterns co-varied strongly with continental-scale seasonal temperature change patterns. Geo-contiguous states shared similar timing and amplitude of epidemic wave patterns irrespective of similarities or differences in state government political party affiliations. These analyses provide evidence that seasonal factors, probably weather changes, have exerted major effects on local COVID-19 incidence rates. Seasonal wave patterns observed during the first year of the epidemic may become repeated in the subsequent years.

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