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Posted: December 3, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of December 1, 2020.

According to the data, 108,062 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of nearly 1.6 percent from the 106,393 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,396,642 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through December 1, the data shows. That marks an increase of 1 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 (14.4 percent), the Phoenix Area (13 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (10.3 percent), the Albuquerque Area (10.1 percent) and the Great Plains Area (10.1 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 Albuquerque Area (26.4 percent), the Great Plains Area (24.3 percent), the Billings Area (21.7 percent), the Bemidji Area (18.6 percent) and the Oklahoma City Area (18.4 percent).

Overall, 8.4 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 couple of months and now stands at 14.5 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, 54.5 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, nearly 84 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 December 1, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 360,433 7,354 304,544 2.4% 3.8%
Albuquerque 70,712 5,682 50,682 10.1% 26.4%
Bemidji 96,489 6,722 87,258 7.2% 18.6%
Billings 79,654 6,321 69,304 8.4% 21.7%
California 33,740 2,361 29,764 7.3% 10.1%
Great Plains 107,691 10,809 95,931 10.1% 24.3%
Nashville 41,957 2,990 37,928 7.3% 5.8%
Navajo 155,836 18,521 110,219 14.4% 17.5%
Oklahoma City 278,375 27,964 244,644 10.3% 18.4%
Phoenix 110,655 14,298 95,628 13.0% 16.5%
Portland 50,364 4,092 45,487 8.3% 11.4%
Tucson 10,736 948 9,690 8.9% 12.9%
TOTAL 1,396,642 108,062 1,181,079 8.4% 14.5%

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

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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