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Posted: October 19, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of October 17, 2020.

According to the data, 61,191 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 0.78 percent from the 60,719 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,011,688 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through October 17, the data shows. That marks an increase of 0.55 percent from the day prior, when the number of tests surpassed the 1 million mark.

Since the release of data from October 14, the IHS has been providing additional information about the spread of the coronavirus. The cumulative percent positive column shows the historical COVID-19 infection rate, meaning the number of tests that have returned positive since the onset of the pandemic.

Based on the cumulative percent positive, the Phoenix Area, the Navajo Area and the Tucson Area continue to show the highest rates. All three regions include the state of Arizona, indicating a disproportionate toll of COVID-19 in the state.

The 7-day rolling average positivity column offers a contemporary look at the impact of the coronavirus. The data shows where COVID-19 cases have been increasing more recently.

Based on the 7-day rolling average positivity, the Billings Area, the Great Plains Area and the Oklahoma City Area have seen dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases. The 7-day rate for the Billings Area, which serves IHS patients in the state of Montana and Wyoming, is a shocking 24.9 percent, according to the data.

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, 39.5 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, 60.8 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 October 17, 2020.

IHS Area
7-day rolling
Alaska 273,737 3,449 246,047 1.4% 2.7%
Albuquerque 48,530 2,196 35,600 5.8% 7.2%
Bemidji 62,855 2,612 57,751 4.3% 10.8%
Billings 67,244 4,070 59,040 6.4% 24.9%
California 21,884 1,395 19,691 6.6% 5.6%
Great Plains 80,585 4,597 74,667 5.8% 15.4%
Nashville 31,891 2,308 28,642 7.5% 6.9%
Navajo 106,933 12,220 80,741 13.1% 5.1%
Oklahoma City 194,904 14,732 175,703 7.7% 12.2%
Phoenix 78,503 10,222 67,009 13.2% 8.5%
Portland 36,679 2,758 33,130 7.7% 6.4%
Tucson 7,943 632 7,203 8.1% 2.9%
TOTAL 1,011,688 61,191 885,224 6.5% 7.9%

Note: Cumulative percent positive and 7-day rolling average positivity are updated three days per week.

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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