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Posted: December 14, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of December 12, 2020.

According to the data, 120,879 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 0.5 percent from the 120,293 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,508,439 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through December 12, the data shows. That marks an increase of nearly 0.4 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 (15 percent), the Phoenix Area (13.3 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (10.6 percent), the Albuquerque Area (10.6 percent) and the Great Plains Area (10.4 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 Tucson Area (19.5 percent), the Phoenix Area (18 percent), the Navajo Area (17.4 percent) and the Oklahoma City Area (17.3 percent).

Overall, 8.7 percent of IHS tests have been positive since the onset of the pandemic, the data shows. Meanwhile, the 7-day average has started to level off 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, 58.9 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, 90.7 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 December 12, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 386,300 8,034 324,312 2.4% 2.6%
Albuquerque 74,879 6,290 53,071 10.6% 13.7%
Bemidji 104,770 7,560 94,313 7.4% 9.5%
Billings 80,806 6,452 70,283 8.4% 8.3%
California 43,039 3,091 37,445 7.6% 9.0%
Great Plains 114,086 11,733 101,287 10.4% 14.0%
Nashville 45,584 3,270 41,315 7.3% 6.8%
Navajo 171,512 21,129 119,662 15.0% 17.4%
Oklahoma City 302,599 31,999 269,755 10.6% 17.3%
Phoenix 117,503 15,481 101,288 13.3% 18.0%
Portland 55,451 4,682 50,044 8.6% 12.4%
Tucson 11,910 1,158 10,656 9.8% 19.5%
TOTAL 1,508,439 120,879 1,273,431 8.7% 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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