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Posted: December 15, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of December 13, 2020.

According to the data, 121,846 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 0.7 percent from the 120,879 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,514,831 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through December 13, the data shows. That marks an increase of 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 (15.1 percent), the Phoenix Area (13.3 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (10.8 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, 59.1 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, 91.1 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 13, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 387,296 8,093 325,330 2.4% 2.6%
Albuquerque 75,094 6,344 53,248 10.6% 13.7%
Bemidji 105,042 7,583 94,562 7.4% 9.5%
Billings 82,328 6,578 71,564 8.4% 8.3%
California 43,114 3,111 37,542 7.7% 9.0%
Great Plains 114,382 11,801 101,607 10.4% 14.0%
Nashville 45,769 3,299 41,712 7.3% 6.8%
Navajo 172,808 21,399 120,612 15.1% 17.4%
Oklahoma City 303,609 32,284 267,505 ** 10.8% 17.3%
Phoenix 117,799 15,555 101,524 13.3% 18.0%
Portland 55,641 4,639 ** 50,224 8.5% 12.4%
Tucson 11,949 1,160 10,693 9.8% 19.5%
TOTAL 1,514,831 121,846 1,276,123 8.7% 12.1%

** Oklahoma Area negative tests decreased and Portland Area positive tests decreased due to data reconciliation.

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

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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