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Posted: November 17, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of November 15, 2020.

According to the data, 86,992 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Altogether, 1,241,553 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through November 15.

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 (13.3 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, five regions have seen dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases. They are: the Great Plains Area (24.4 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (17.9 percent), the Billings Area (16.8 percent), the Albuquerque Area (16.6 percent) and the Tucson Area (16.2 percent).

Overall, 7.6 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 12.5 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, 48.5 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, 74.7 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 15, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 329,086 6,029 281,961 2.1% 3.5%
Albuquerque 63,042 4,136 45,917 8.3% 16.6%
Bemidji 85,693 5,266 77,706 6.3% 12.6%
Billings 74,977 5,432 65,308 7.7% 16.8%
California 27,671 1,781 25,052 6.6% 8.3%
Great Plains 97,474 8,677 88,010 9.0% 24.4%
Nashville 37,749 2,725 34,027 7.4% 8.0%
Navajo 133,356 14,859 97,278 13.3% 12.4%
Oklahoma City 243,218 21,838 215,448 9.2% 17.9%
Phoenix 96,488 12,165 83,585 12.7% 12.4%
Portland 43,538 3,321 39,706 7.7% 8.8%
Tucson 9,261 763 8,397 8.3% 16.2%
TOTAL 1,241,553 86,992 1,062,395 7.6% 12.5%

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

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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