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Posted: September 29, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of September 27, 2020.

According to the data, 49,695 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 0.8 percent from the 49,300 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 823,682 coronavirus tests have been administered through September 27, the data shows. That marks an increase of 0.87 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 203,529 tests administered in Alaska, only 0.99 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, almost 32.2 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, 49.5 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 27, 2020.

IHS Area Tested Positive Negative
Alaska 203,529 2,013 181,120
Albuquerque 42,460 1,826  30,537
Bemidji 51,452 1,724 47,140
Billings 57,011 2,375  50,772
California 12,067 730  10,590
Great Plains 68,745 3,283 64,676
Nashville 27,569 2,040  24,651
Navajo 90,340 11,673  69,519
Oklahoma City 163,211 11,443 148,790
Phoenix 67,744 9,481 57,387
Portland 32,310 2,498  29,032
Tucson 7,244 609  6,527
TOTAL 823,682 49,695 720,741

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

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