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Posted: November 11, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of November 9, 2020.

According to the data, 81,083 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of almost 2 percent from the 79,516 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,192,575 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through November 9, the data shows. That marks an increase of 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 have been seen in the Navajo Area (13 percent), the Phoenix Area (12.7 percent) and the Oklahoma City Area (8.8 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, four regions are seeing dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases. They are: the Great Plains Area (24.9 percent), the Bemidji Area (20 percent), the Albuquerque Area (16.7 percent) and the Billings Area (16.2 percent).

Overall, 7.3 percent of IHS tests have been positive since the onset of the pandemic. The 7-day average has grown higher over the last couple of weeks and now stands at 14 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, 46.6 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, 71.7 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 November 9, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 318,514 5,660 278,643 2.0% 7.8%
Albuquerque 60,098 3,646 44,293 7.6% 16.7%
Bemidji 80,499 4,791 74,233 6.1% 20.0%
Billings 73,700 5,178 64,345 7.4% 16.2%
California 26,490 1,679 23,972 6.5% 7.0%
Great Plains 94,149 7,862 85,608 8.4% 24.9%
Nashville 36,521 2,635 32,801 7.4% 6.9%
Navajo 126,163 13,967 93,543 13.0% 11.7%
Oklahoma City 231,079 19,869 205,833 8.8% 17.1%
Phoenix 94,135 11,872 81,506 12.7% 15.2%
Portland 42,159 3,193 38,380 7.7% 10.2%
Tucson 9,068 731 8,231 8.2% 11.7%
TOTAL 1,192,575 81,083 1,031,388 7.3% 14.0%

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

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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