The world witnessed the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The first case of COVID-19 in the United States of America (USA) was confirmed on 21 January 2020, in Snohomish County in Washington State (WA). Following this, a rapid explosion of COVID-19 cases was observed throughout WA and the USA. Lack of access to publicly available spatial data at finer scales has prevented scientists from implementing spatial analytical techniques to gain insights into the spread of COVID-19. Datasets were available only as counts at county levels. The spatial response to COVID-19 using coarse-scale publicly available datasets was limited to web mapping applications and dashboards to visualize infected cases from state to county levels only. This research approaches data availability issues by creating proxy datasets for COVID-19 using publicly available news articles. Further, these proxy datasets are used to perform spatial analyses to unfolding events in space and time and to gain insights into the spread of COVID-19 in WA during the initial stage of the outbreak. Spatial analysis of theses proxy datasets from 21 January to 23 March 2020, suggests the presence of a clear space–time pattern. From 21 January to 6 March, a strong presence of community spread of COVID-19 is observed only in close proximity of the outbreak source in Snohomish and King Counties, which are neighbors. Infections diffused to farther locations only after a month, i.e., 6 March. The space–time pattern of diffusion observed in this study suggests that implementing strict social distancing measures during the initial stage in infected locations can drastically help curb the spread to distant locations.
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