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Posted: December 10, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of December 8, 2020.

According to the data, 116,858 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 1.2 percent from the 114,892 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,472,214 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through December 8, the data shows. That marks an increase of nearly 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 (14.8 percent), the Phoenix Area (13.2 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (10.5 percent), the Albuquerque Area (10.4 percent) and the Great Plains Area (10.3 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, three regions have seen dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases. They are: the Phoenix Area (18 percent), the Navajo Area (16.8 percent) and the Oklahoma City Area (16.5 percent).

Overall, 8.6 percent of IHS tests have been positive since the onset of the pandemic, the data shows. Meanwhile, the 7-day average has started to decrease after growing steadily over the last couple of months. It now stands at 12.1 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, 57.5 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, 88.5 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 8, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 377,904 7,833 318,323 2.4% 2.9%
Albuquerque 73,365 6,096 52,450 10.4% 15.7%
Bemidji 100,505 7,166 90,616 7.3% 10.8%
Billings 80,780 6,452 70,257 8.4% 15.4%
California 40,263 2,905 35,498 7.6% 8.1%
Great Plains 112,364 11,513 99,782 10.3% 15.4%
Nashville 44,187 3,174 39,849 7.4% 8.7%
Navajo 165,088 20,085 115,713 14.8% 16.8%
Oklahoma City 297,511 31,083 264,050 10.5% 16.5%
Phoenix 114,955 15,013 99,090 13.2% 18.0%
Portland 53,754 4,463 48,567 8.4% 13.5%
Tucson 11,538 1,075 10,365 9.4% 14.1%
TOTAL 1,472,214 116,858 1,244,560 8.6% 12.1%

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

Source: (Indian Health Service)
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