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Posted: November 28, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of November 26, 2020.

According to the data, 102,381 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 0.65 percent from the 101,717 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,358,894 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through November 26, the data shows. That marks an increase of 0.38 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 (14 percent), the Phoenix Area (12.8 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (10 percent) the Great Plains Area (9.9 percent) and the the Albuquerque Area (9.7 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 have seen dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases. They are: the Albuquerque Area (22.4 percent), the Great Plains Area (20.6 percent), the Billings Area (20.2 percent) and the Oklahoma City Area (18.6 percent)

Overall, 8.2 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 13.6 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, 53 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, 81.7 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 26, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 351,755 7,067 298,541 2.3% 4.0%
Albuquerque * 68,765 5,314 49,376 9.7% 22.4%
Bemidji 93,298 6,138 84,646 6.8% 10.9%
Billings 78,840 6,133 68,409 8.2% 20.2%
California 32,306 2,204 28,491 7.2% 7.9%
Great Plains 106,046 10,388 94,530 9.9% 20.6%
Nashville 40,809 2,897 37,091 7.2% 5.6%
Navajo 150,425 17,397 106,608 14.0% 14.6%
Oklahoma City 268,760 26,212 236,241 10.0% 18.6%
Phoenix 108,452 13,850 93,953 12.8% 16.2%
Portland 49,194 3,890 44,430 8.1% 11.4%
Tucson 10,244 891 9,255 8.8% 13.9%
TOTAL 1,358,894 102,381 1,151,571 8.2% 13.6%

** Albuquerque Area positive tests decreased due to data reconciliation.

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

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