The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic has had a crucial influence on people's lives and socio-economic development throughout China and across the globe since December 2019. An understanding of the spatiotemporal patterns and influencing factors of the COVID-19 epidemic on multiple scales could benefit the control of the outbreak. Therefore, we used spatial autocorrelation and Spearman's rank correlation methods to investigate these two topics, respectively. The COVID-19 epidemic data reported publicly and relevant open data in Hubei province were analyzed. The results showed that (1) at both prefecture and county levels, the global spatial autocorrelation was extremely significant for the cumulative confirmed COVID-19 cases (CCC) in Hubei province from 30 January to 18 February 2020. Further, (2) at both levels, the significant hotspot and cluster/outlier area was observed solely in Wuhan city and most of its districts/sub-cities from 30 January to 18 February 2020. (3) At the prefecture level in Hubei province, the number of CCC had a positive and extremely significant correlation (p < 0.01) with the registered population (RGP), resident population (RSP), Baidu migration index (BMI), regional gross domestic production (GDP), and total retail sales of consumer goods (TRS), respectively, from 29 January to 18 February 2020 and had a negative and significant correlation (p < 0.05) with minimum elevation (MINE) from 2 February to 18 February 2020, but no association with the land area (LA), population density (PD), maximum elevation (MAXE), mean elevation (MNE), and range of elevation (RAE) from 23 January to 18 February 2020. (4) At the county level, the number of CCC in Hubei province had a positive and extremely significant correlation (p < 0.01) with PD, RGP, RSP, GDP, and TRS, respectively, from 27 January to 18 February 2020, and was negatively associated with MINE, MAXE, MNE, and RAE, respectively, from 26 January to 18 February 2020, and negatively associated with LA from 30 January to 18 February 2020. It suggested that (1) the COVID-19 epidemic at both levels in Hubei province had evident characteristics of significant global spatial autocorrelations and significant centralized high-risk outbreaks, and had an extremely significant association with social and economic factors. (2) The COVID-19 epidemics were significantly associated with the natural factors, such as LA, MAXE, MNE, and RAE, -only at the county level, not at the prefecture level, from 2 February to 18 February 2020. (3) The COVID-19 epidemics were significantly related to the socioeconomic factors, such as RGP, RSP, TRS, and GDP, at both levels from 26 January to 18 February 2020. It is desired that this study enrich our understanding of the spatiotemporal patterns and influencing factors of the COVID-19 epidemic and benefit classified prevention and control of the COVID-19 epidemic for policymakers.
Keywords: COVID-19; Spearman’s rank correlation; Wuhan city; influencing factor; spatial autocorrelation; spatial scale.