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Posted: November 26, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of November 24, 2020.

According to the data, 100,765 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 2.3 percent from the 98,494 cases previously reported by the IHS.

The results also represent a milestone for the IHS, with the number of COVID-19 cases surpassing the 100,000 mark, some eight months since the onset of the pandemic in Indian Country.

Altogether, 1,344,332 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through November 24, the data shows. That marks an increase of 1.2 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 (13.9 percent), the Phoenix Area (12.9 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (9.9 percent) the Great Plains Area (9.8 percent) and the the Albuquerque Area (9.6 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 Billings Area (20.1 percent), the Albuquerque Area (18.2 percent), the Great Plains Area (18 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (17.8 percent) and the Navajo Area (15 percent).

Overall, 8.1 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 12.8 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, 52.5 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, 80.9 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 24, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 347,641 6,916 295,428 2.3% 4.3%
Albuquerque 68,358 5,235 49,139 9.6% 18.2%
Bemidji 92,700 6,091 84,159 6.7% 12.2%
Billings 78,437 6,073 68,010 8.2% 20.1%
California 32,043 2,173 28,312 7.1% 9.3%
Great Plains 105,181 10,221 93,848 9.8% 18.0%
Nashville 40,692 2,892 36,981 7.3% 7.0%
Navajo 146,893 16,984 105,168 13.9% 15.0%
Oklahoma City 266,317 25,766 234,339 9.9% 17.8%
Phoenix 107,442 13,708 92,904 12.9% 13.5%
Portland 48,491 3,829 43,820 8.0% 10.3%
Tucson 10,137 877 9,162 8.7% 12.7%
TOTAL 1,344,332 100,765 1,141,270 8.1% 12.8%

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

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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