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Posted: December 5, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of December 3, 2020.

According to the data, 111,144 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of nearly 1.6 percent from the 109,414 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,427,215 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through December 3, the data shows. That marks an increase of almost 1.3 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 (14.5 percent), the Phoenix Area (13 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (10.4 percent), the Great Plains Area (10.2 percent) and the Albuquerque Area (10.2 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 (21 percent), the Billings Area (20.4 percent), the Navajo Area (18.1 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (17.7 percent) and the Phoenix Area (17.7 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 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, 55.7 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, 85.8 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 3, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 368,317 7,527 311,865 2.4% 3.7%
Albuquerque 71,880 5,838 51,404 10.2% 15.8%
Bemidji 97,782 6,868 88,287 7.2% 17.1%
Billings 79,657 6,321 69,307 8.4% 20.4%
California 37,370 2,581 32,869 7.3% 7.4%
Great Plains 109,442 11,066 97,270 10.2% 21.0%
Nashville 42,465 3,032 38,363 7.3% 7.4%
Navajo 159,112 19,018 112,155 14.5% 18.1%
Oklahoma City 286,239 29,150 251,136 10.4% 17.7%
Phoenix 112,220 14,527 96,944 13.0% 17.7%
Portland 51,773 4,234 46,740 8.3% 15.4%
Tucson 10,958 982 9,878 9.0% 14.1%
TOTAL 1,427,215 111,144 1,206,218 8.4% 14.0%

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

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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