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Posted: December 7, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of December 5, 2020.

According to the data, 112,505 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 0.5 percent from the 111,918 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,438,560 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through December 5, the data shows. That marks an increase of 0.3 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 (14.6 percent), the Phoenix Area (13.1 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (10.4 percent), the Albuquerque Area (10.3 percent) and the Great Plains 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 (18.6 percent), the Billings Area (18.2 percent), the Navajo Area (16.8 percent), the Phoenix Area (16.8 percent) and the Oklahoma City Area (16.3 percent).

Overall, 8.5 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 12.3 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, 56.1 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, 86.5 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 5, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 371,769 7,656 314,213 2.4% 2.8%
Albuquerque 72,157 5,898 51,569 10.3% 16.0%
Bemidji 98,164 6,916 88,639 7.2% 15.7%
Billings 80,091 6,361 69,620 8.4% 18.2%
California 38,215 2,659 33,567 7.3% 7.5%
Great Plains 110,148 11,183 97,705 10.3% 18.6%
Nashville 42,887 3,087 38,917 7.3% 9.2%
Navajo 161,635 19,408 113,489 14.6% 16.8%
Oklahoma City 287,329 29,358 251,943 10.4% 16.3%
Phoenix 113,101 14,733 97,645 13.1% 16.8%
Portland 51,997 4,252 46,946 8.3% 12.8%
Tucson 11,067 994 9,975 9.1% 13.0%
TOTAL 1,438,560 112,505 1,214,228 8.5% 12.3%

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

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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