Title: Exploring the heated debate over reopening for economy or continuing lockdown for public health safety concerns about COVID-19 in Twitter

Authors: Sina Shokoohyar; Hossein Rikhtehgar Berenji; Julianne Dang

Addresses: Erivan K. Haub School of Business, Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA 19131, USA ' College of Business, Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR 97116, USA ' Erivan K. Haub School of Business, Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA 19131, USA

Abstract: This paper explores US residents' opinion regarding whether to reopen for the economy or to continue lockdown for public health safety concerns, by analysing 1.3 million unique COVID-19-related tweets that are collected from March 11, 2020, through June 8, 2020. Tweets are classified into three classes: 1) in favour of reopening the USA for the economy; 2) in favour of continuing lockdown for public health safety concerns; 3) neutral tweets (providing facts rather than opinions). Gradient boosting classifier algorithm with the accuracy of 88% outperformed other classifiers, (i.e., logistic regression, decision tree, random forest, neutral network and multinomial naïve Bayes) used in this study. The result shows that US residents are becoming more concerned about the economic impacts of the lockdowns, and they are more in favour of reopening the economy as time passes. Managerial implications and directions for future research are discussed based on the state-by-state details of US residents' opinions and their trends over time.

Keywords: coronavirus; COVID-19; pandemic; public health safety; social media analytics; sentiment analysis; Twitter; classification methods.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBSR.2022.10035686

International Journal of Business and Systems Research, 2021 Vol.15 No.5, pp.650 - 672

Received: 03 Aug 2020
Accepted: 30 Sep 2020

Published online: 05 Jul 2021 *

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