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Posted: October 31, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

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

According to the data, 70,019 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 1.2 percent from the 69,168 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,110,290 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through October 29, the data shows. That marks an increase of almost 0.9 percent from the day prior.

Since mid-October, the IHS has been providing additional information about the spread of the coronavirus within the system. 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 highest rates are being seen in the Navajo Area (12.9 percent), the Phoenix Area (12.8 percent) and the Oklahoma City Area (8.1 percent). The first two 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 more contemporary look at the impact of the coronavirus. The data shows where COVID-19 cases have been increasing recently.

Based on the 7-day rolling average positivity, three regions have seen dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases. They are: the Great Plains Area (24.4 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (12.6 percent) and the Albuquerque Area (9.7 percent), the latter area making its debut in the top three.

Overall, 6.8 percent of IHS tests have been positive since the onset of the pandemic. The 7-day average is slightly higher, at 8.8 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, 43.3 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, 66.8 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 29, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 300,931 4,448 266,881 1.6% 3.7%
Albuquerque 54,544 2,784 40,398 6.4% 9.7%
Bemidji 72,351 3,382 65,938 4.9% 7.7%
Billings 71,209 4,666 62,908 6.9% 9.4%
California 24,446 1,529 22,249 6.4% 5.7%
Great Plains 87,685 6,237 80,255 7.2% 24.4%
Nashville 34,340 2,487 30,856 7.5% 8.9%
Navajo 116,356 12,892 87,169 12.9% 6.9%
Oklahoma City 212,418 16,850 190,819 8.1% 12.6%
Phoenix 87,948 11,124 75,974 12.8% 9.4%
Portland 39,567 2,955 35,896 7.6% 9.1%
Tucson 8,495 665 7,718 7.9% 7.2%
TOTAL 1,110,290 70,019 967,061 6.8% 8.8%

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

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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