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Posted: November 14, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of November 12, 2020.

According to the data, 85,000 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of nearly 2.3 percent from the 83,119 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,224,175 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through November 12, the data shows. That marks an increase of 1.8 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 (13.1 percent), the Phoenix Area (12.7 percent) and the Oklahoma City Area (9.1 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, four regions are seeing dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases. They are: the Great Plains Area (25.2 percent), the Billings Area (18.6 percent) and the Bemidji Area (17.3.percent).

Overall, 7.5 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 14.7 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, 47.8 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, 73.6 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 November 12, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 324,404 5,957 280,768 ** 2.1% 9.6%
Albuquerque 62,061 3,991 45,610 8.0% 14.1%
Bemidji 84,474 5,103 76,678 6.2% 17.3%
Billings 74,689 5,358 64,998 7.6% 18.6%
California 27,221 1,751 24,580 6.6% 6.9%
Great Plains 97,087 8,499 87,418 8.9% 25.2%
Nashville 37,349 2,695 33,550 7.4% 8.3%
Navajo 129,464 14,328 95,272 13.1% 11.2%
Oklahoma City 239,675 21,251 212,459 9.1% 16.8%
Phoenix 95,387 12,058 82,558 12.7% 14.8%
Portland 43,209 3,263 39,440 7.6% 7.4%
Tucson 9,155 746 8,302 8.2% 14.3%
TOTAL 1,224,175 85,000 1,051,633 7.5% 14.7%

** Alaska Negative Tests reduced due to data reconciliation.

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

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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