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Posted: November 15, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of November 13, 2020.

According to the data, 85,697 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 0.82 percent from the 85,000 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,232,497 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through November 13, the data shows. That marks an increase of 0.68 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 (13.2 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, three 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, 48.1 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, 74.1 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 13, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska** 326,814 5,872 280,218 2.1% 9.6%
Albuquerque 62,257 4,041 45,738 8.1% 14.1%
Bemidji 85,193 5,189 77,348 6.3% 17.3%
Billings 74,720 5,364 65,040 7.6% 18.6%
California 27,470 1,765 24,734 6.7% 6.9%
Great Plains 97,087 8,499 87,418 8.9% 25.2%
Nashville 37,511 2,700 33,673 7.4% 8.3%
Navajo 131,272 14,568 96,100 13.2% 11.2%
Oklahoma City 241,294 21,510 213,934 9.1% 16.8%
Phoenix 96,138 12,115 83,238 12.7% 14.8%
Portland 43,501 3,314 39,676 7.7% 7.4%
Tucson 9,240 760 8,379 8.3% 14.3%
TOTAL 1,232,497 85,697 1,055,496 7.5% 14.7%

** Alaska Positive and 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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