Text mining and sentiment analysis of COVID-19 tweets

by   Qihuang Zhang, et al.

The human severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2), causing the COVID-19 disease, has continued to spread all over the world. It menacingly affects not only public health and global economics but also mental health and mood. While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been widely studied, relatively fewer discussions about the sentimental reaction of the population have been available. In this article, we scrape COVID-19 related tweets on the microblogging platform, Twitter, and examine the tweets from Feb 24, 2020 to Oct 14, 2020 in four Canadian cities (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary) and four U.S. cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle). Applying the Vader and NRC approaches, we evaluate the sentiment intensity scores and visualize the information over different periods of the pandemic. Sentiment scores for the tweets concerning three anti-epidemic measures, masks, vaccine, and lockdown, are computed for comparisons. The results of four Canadian cities are compared with four cities in the United States. We study the causal relationships between the infected cases, the tweet activities, and the sentiment scores of COVID-19 related tweets, by integrating the echo state network method with convergent cross-mapping. Our analysis shows that public sentiments regarding COVID-19 vary in different time periods and locations. In general, people have a positive mood about COVID-19 and masks, but negative in the topics of vaccine and lockdown. The causal inference shows that the sentiment influences people's activities on Twitter, which is also correlated to the daily number of infections.


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