- Social media conversations regarding public health have increased from under 5% to over 21% since March 1, according to a Zencity analysis of over 1.5 million online interactions around the new coronavirus (COVID-19) from across 100 U.S. counties and cities.
- This month, the biggest points of conversation have been public health (21%), schools (13%), festivals and public events (8%) and public safety (3%). In January, the dominant topics of conversation were violence and crime (18%), public safety (9%) and police (4%).
- Zencity also identified the key concerns people have expressed surrounding the pandemic: school closures (42.7%); public event cancellations (25.1%); public transportation (17.4%); employment and business impacts (8.2%); bar or restaurant impacts (4.6%); "panic buying" from residents (1.4%); and city services updates (0.6%). Zencity did not clarify the exact social media platforms used for the research.
The company began analyzing online conversations in three different states — Texas, Florida and California —starting Feb. 1.
Conversations in California were mostly dominated by school closings and city readiness, in addition to unconfirmed cases and monitoring updates. Conversations in Florida peaked after two cases were confirmed in early March, and conversations in Texas peaked around the time when discourse about a potential vaccine was circulating.
"This information can help local government officials shape both policy and messaging, focusing on the issues that people care about the most," Zencity co-founder and CEO Eyal Feder-Levy wrote in a Medium post.
"The men and women of local governments, public safety, and public health organizations are at the front lines of tackling this crisis," he continued. "One of their key responsibilities at this time is to share effective and reliable information with their communities, and to take immediate action around the issues that concern their residents."
Federal and city leaders are continuing to take increasingly drastic steps to limit the spread of the virus. President Trump announced Monday that gatherings of more than ten people should be discouraged; six Bay Area counties have been ordered to 'shelter in place'; and the New York City Mayor's Office announced it will stop enforcing tickets given to e-bike riders so that delivery workers can deliver food to quarantined homes.
To keep up with all of our coverage on how the new coronavirus is impacting U.S. cities, visit our daily tracker.