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Posted: October 1, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of September 29, 2020.

According to the data, 51,900 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of nearly 3.4 percent from the 50,219 cases previously reported by the IHS. It’s also the highest day-to-day increase in over two months.

Altogether, 848,466 coronavirus tests have been administered through September 29, the data shows. That marks an increase of 1.7 percent from the day prior.

Overall, 6.1 percent of IHS coronavirus tests have returned positive, according to the data. But the rate is far higher in the Phoenix Area, where 13.8 percent are positive.

Next is the Navajo Area, which serves the largest reservation in the United States. But even with almost 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 8.3 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 nearly 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 213,186 tests administered in Alaska,  a little over 1 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, 33.1 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, 51 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 29, 2020.

IHS Area Tested Positive Negative
Alaska 213,186 2,154 189,598
Albuquerque 43,216 1,874  33,038
Bemidji 53,477 1,847 49,541
Billings 58,947 2,592  52,494
California 12,307 744  10,872
Great Plains 70,079 3,378 65,795
Nashville 28,103 2,064  25,101
Navajo 91,355 11,736  70,214
Oklahoma City 168,086 12,782 152,645
Phoenix 69,474 9,599 59,020
Portland 32,917 2,521  29,585
Tucson 7,319 609  6,602
TOTAL 848,466 51,900 744,505

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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