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Posted: October 22, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of October 20, 2020.

According to the data, 63,514 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of nearly 2.1 percent from the 62,235 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,036,468 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through October 20, the data shows. That marks an increase of 1.2 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.

Overall, 6.6 percent of IHS tests have been positive since the onset of the pandemic. The 7-day average is slightly higher, at 8.7 percent.

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, 40.5 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, 62.3 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 20, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 279,818 3,624 249,923 1.4% 2.6%
Albuquerque 49,692 2,313 36,394 6.0% 8.3%
Bemidji 64,946 2,803 59,480 4.5% 9.3%
Billings 69,007 4,440 60,678 6.8% 20.6%
California 22,509 1,424 20,786 6.4% 5.7%
Great Plains 82,663 5,014 76,340 6.2% 15.5%
Nashville 32,587 2,342 29,205 7.4% 6.8%
Navajo 109,106 12,362 82,235 13.1% 5.6%
Oklahoma City 199,931 15,338 180,117 7.8% 11.5%
Phoenix 80,687 10,427 69,238 13.1% 9.1%
Portland 37,541 2,793 33,969 7.6% 5.7%
Tucson 7,981 634 7,239 8.1% 3.1%
TOTAL 1,036,468 63,514 905,604 6.6% 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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