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Posted: November 2, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of October 31, 2020.

According to the data, 71,026 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 0.69 percent from the 70,540 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,121,178 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through October 31, the data shows. That marks an increase of 0.39 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 (12.8 percent), the Phoenix Area (12.8 percent) and the Oklahoma City Area (8.2 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 (26.1 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (13.1 percent) and the Albuquerque Area (11.6 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 has grown higher in recent days and is now at 9.5 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, 43.8 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, 67.4 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 31, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 305,706 4,705 270,832 1.7% 4.2%
Albuquerque 55,015 2,845 40,780 6.5% 11.6%
Bemidji 72,749 3,421 66,282 4.9% 8.8%
Billings 71,316 4,741 62,572 7.0% 10.2%
California 24,763 1,550 22,557 6.4% 5.5%
Great Plains 88,310 6,389 80,758 7.3% 26.1%
Nashville 34,545 2,506 31,062 7.5% 6.8%
Navajo 117,995 13,009 88,297 12.8% 8.4%
Oklahoma City 213,963 17,049 192,064 8.2% 13.1%
Phoenix 88,474 11,177 76,478 12.8% 11.3%
Portland 39,795 2,964 36,124 7.6% 8.5%
Tucson 8,547 670 7,766 7.9% 6.9%
TOTAL 1,121,178 71,026 975,572 6.8% 9.5%

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

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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