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Posted: October 21, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of October 19, 2020.

According to the data, 62,235 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 0.92 percent from the 61,665 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,023,768 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through October 19, the data shows. That marks an increase of 0.79 percent from the day prior.

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 20.6 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, almost 40 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, 61.6 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 19, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 276,565 3,540 248,296 1.4% 2.6%
Albuquerque 49,308 2,268 36,144 5.9% 8.3%
Bemidji 64,418 2,746 59,088 4.4% 9.3%
Billings 67,670 4,161 60,285 6.5% 20.6%
California 22,243 1,410 20,373 6.5% 5.7%
Great Plains 81,232 4,726 75,341 5.9% 15.5%
Nashville 32,355 2,330 29,049 7.4% 6.8%
Navajo 108,001 12,293 81,720 13.1% 5.6%
Oklahoma City 196,633 14,967 177,241 7.8% 11.5%
Phoenix 80,078 10,376 68,634 13.1% 9.1%
Portland 37,284 2,784 33,716 7.6% 5.7%
Tucson 7,981 634 7,239 8.1% 3.1%
TOTAL 1,023,768 62,235 897,126 6.5% 8.7%

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

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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