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Posted: December 16, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of December 14, 2020.

According to the data, 124,872 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of nearly 2.5 percent from the 121,846 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,532,964 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through December 14, the data shows. That marks an increase of 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 (15.1 percent), the Phoenix Area (13.3 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (11 percent), the Albuquerque Area (10.7 percent) and the Great Plains Area (10.5 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 Oklahoma City Area (19.9 percent), the Tucson Area (18.2 percent), the Navajo Area (17.3 percent) and the Phoenix Area (16 percent).

Overall, 8.8 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 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, 59.8 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, almost 92.2 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 14, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 389,281 8,146 326,978 2.4% 2.5%
Albuquerque 76,048 6,425 53,626 10.7% 12.2%
Bemidji 105,451 7,648 94,932 7.5% 9.7%
Billings 82,472 6,605 71,630 8.4% 8.7%
California 43,966 3,207 38,235 7.7% 8.9%
Great Plains 114,927 11,931 102,059 10.5% 15.4%
Nashville 46,253 3,335 42,108 7.3% 7.5%
Navajo 173,401 21,586 121,078 15.1% 17.3%
Oklahoma City 310,146 33,916 273,979 11.0% 19.9%
Phoenix 121,880 16,105 104,927 13.3% 16.0%
Portland 56,941 4,771 51,390 8.5% 10.0%
Tucson 12,198 1,197 10,905 9.9% 18.2%
TOTAL 1,532,964 124,872 1,291,847 8.8% 12.0%

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

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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