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Posted: November 24, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of November 22, 2020.

According to the data, 96,223 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 1.4 percent from the 94,901 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,313,393 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through November 22, the data shows. That marks an increase of 0.54 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 (13.8 percent), the Phoenix Area (12.7 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (9.7 percent) and the Great Plains Area (9.5 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 (18.7 percent), the Billings Area (18.3 percent), the Albuquerque Area (17.9 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (15.1 percent) and the Navajo Area (14.2 percent).

Overall, 7.9 percent of IHS tests have been positive since the onset of the pandemic, the data shows. The 7-day average has grown higher over the last few weeks and now stands at 12.4 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, 51.3 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, nearly 79 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 22, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 343,704 6,707 292,711 2.2% 5.1%
Albuquerque 66,851 4,899 48,451 9.2% 17.9%
Bemidji 90,421 5,829 82,022 6.6% 12.9%
Billings 77,015 5,773 67,112 7.9% 18.3%
California 29,880 2,002 26,577 7.0% 9.7%
Great Plains 103,184 9,741 92,482 9.5% 18.7%
Nashville 39,408 2,831 35,697 7.3% 6.0%
Navajo 144,138 16,555 103,742 13.8% 14.2%
Oklahoma City 259,299 24,445 227,792 9.7% 15.1%
Phoenix 103,232 13,048 89,466 12.7% 12.9%
Portland 46,454 3,563 42,136 7.8% 8.1%
Tucson 9,807 830 8,879 8.5% 12.9%
TOTAL 1,313,393 96,223 1,117,067 7.9% 12.4%

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

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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