Governors Fighting Crisis: Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic across U.S. States on Twitter

Xi Gong, Xinyue Ye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the waves of the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, each U.S. state governor has been leading efforts to curb the spread of the virus within his or her state. Twitter has been widely used for crisis communications by governors. Their Twitter usage patterns can largely reflect how state governments responded to the COVID-19 crisis from both geographical and social network perspectives. Through spatial–temporal analysis, network analysis, and text mining, we identified several important usage patterns, such as (1) tweet quantities positively correlated with the pandemic severity; (2) most governors started to mention COVID-19 weeks before the first reported case in their states; (3) COVID-19-related hashtags were commonly used to organize information; (4) feedback was frequently provided by at-mentioning or retweeting other accounts; and (5) governors were networked for crisis communication, driven by demographics, pandemic severities, geographic closeness, cooperation, and party affiliations among states. The current usage patterns are generally consistent with the criteria for effective crisis communications on Twitter (listening, informing, feedback, and connections). Some actionable approaches for governors to improve Twitter crisis communications are also discussed. This exploratory study provides a guide for other agencies and officials to develop future crisis communication plans through leveraging social media for social good.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProfessional Geographer
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Twitter
  • crisis communication
  • spatial social network
  • state governors

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