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Posted: September 28, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of September 26, 2020.

According to the data, 49,300 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 0.51 percent from the 49,049 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 816,564 coronavirus tests have been administered through September 26, the data shows. That marks an increase of 0.43 percent from the day prior.

The low growth rates reflect an overall slowdown of coronavirus activity within the IHS since July 21.

Overall, 6 percent of IHS coronavirus tests have returned positive, according to the data. But the rate is far higher in the Phoenix Area, where 14 percent are positive.

Next is the Navajo Area, which serves the largest reservation in the United States. But even with 12.9 percent of tests returning positive, the rate has fallen steadily over the last couple of months, following a noticeable decline as the region with the highest rate.

The Tucson Area, which covers southern Arizona, shows a high positive rate of 8.4 percent. It recently overtook the Nashville Area as the region with the third highest rate within the IHS system. The Portland Area, though, also has a comparably high rate of 7.7 percent

Still, the high rates in the Phoenix, Navajo and Tucson regions indicate a disproportionate toll of the coronavirus among IHS patients in the state of Arizona.

On the other end of the spectrum, aggressive efforts in the Alaska Area are turning up very few cases. Out of 199,530 tests administered in Alaska, only 0.97 percent have returned positive, the data shows.

The data, however, is incomplete. While 100 percent of facilities run directly by the IHS are reporting data, only 33 percent of tribally managed facilities and 44 percent of urban Indian organizations are doing the same, the agency has told Indianz.Com.

The agency also provided to Indianz.Com the service population for 2019: 2,562,290. Based on that figure, 31.9 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives have been tested for the coronavirus since the IHS began reporting data in March.

The IHS user population, on the other hand, is a much smaller number. As of 2019, 1,662,834 American Indians and Alaska Natives have lived within a service delivery area and have received health care at an IHS or tribal facility during the previous three years.

Based on the user population, 49.1 percent of Native Americans have been tested for the coronavirus since the IHS began reporting data in March.

COVID-19 Cases by IHS Area

Data are reported from IHS, tribal, and urban Indian organization facilities, though reporting by tribal and urban programs is voluntary. Data reflect cases reported to the IHS through 11:59 pm on September 26, 2020.

IHS Area Tested Positive Negative
Alaska 199,530 1,940 177,378
Albuquerque 42,324 1,817  30,412
Bemidji 51,138 1,699 46,843
Billings 56,753 2,310  50,569
California 12,067 730  10,590
Great Plains 68,411 3,256 64,318
Nashville 27,465 2,035  24,566
Navajo 90,207 11,654  69,301
Oklahoma City 161,733 11,296 147,428
Phoenix 67,574 9,475 57,233
Portland 32,118 2,479  28,866
Tucson 7,244 609  6,527
TOTAL 816,564 49,300 714,031

Source: https://www.ihs.gov/coronavirus (Indian Health Service)

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