The COVID-19 is still a huge challenge that seriously threatens public health globally. Previous studies focused on the influence of air pollutants and probable meteorological parameters on confirmed COVID-19 infections via epidemiological methods, whereas the findings of relations between possible variables and COVID-19 incidences using geographical perspective were scarce. In the present study, data concerning confirmed COVID-19 cases and possible affecting factors were collected for 325 cities across China up to May 27, 2020. The geographically weighted regression (GWR) model was introduced to explore the impact of probable determinants on confirmed COVID-19 incidences. Some results were obtained. AQI, PM2.5, and PM10 demonstrated significantly positive impacts on COVID-19 during the most study period with the majority lag group ( P < 0.05). Nevertheless, the relation of temperature with COVID-19 was significantly negative ( P < 0.05). Especially, CO exhibited a negative effect on COVID-19 in most study period with the majority lag group. The impacts of each possible determinant on COVID-19 represented significantly spatial heterogeneity. The obvious influence of the majority of possible factors on COVID-19 was mainly detected during the after lockdown period with the lag 21 group. Although the COVID-19 spreading has been effectively controlled by tough measures taken by the Chinese government, the study findings remind us to address the air pollution issues persistently for protecting human health. Supplementary Information The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s11356-021-12934-6.