In the lawsuit, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt alleges China did little to stop the spread of the virus.
Mr Schmitt claims Missouri residents have suffered possibly tens of billions of dollars in economic damages.
China's foreign ministry denounced the move, saying the "frivolous lawsuit has no factual or legal basis".
A spokesperson said: "Really absurd. Based on the principle of sovereign equality, US courts have NO jurisdiction over the Chinese government."
Legal experts have also questioned the move and how far it will get. A legal doctrine called sovereign immunity offers foreign governments broad protection from being sued in US courts.
"There is an exception for torts committed in the United States by officials acting in an official capacity; the paradigm would be something like a car accident in an embassy car," said Tom Ginsburg, a professor of international law at the University of Chicago.
The civil lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, is against the Chinese government, Chinese Communist Party and other Chinese officials and institutions.
"In Missouri, the impact of the virus is very real - thousands have been infected and many have died, families have been separated from dying loved ones, small businesses are shuttering their doors, and those living paycheck to paycheck are struggling to put food on their table," Mr Schmitt said in a statement.
"The Chinese government lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of COVID-19, silenced whistleblowers, and did little to stop the spread of the disease," Mr Schmitt said. "They must be held accountable for their actions."