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Posted: December 20, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of December 18, 2020.

According to the data, 130,463 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.That represents an increase of 0.9 percent from the 130,463 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,575,576 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through December 18, the data shows. That marks an increase of 0.5 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 (15.3 percent), the Phoenix Area (13.5 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (11.4 percent), the Albuquerque Area (10.8 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 Tucson Area (26.3 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (20.8 percent), the Phoenix Area (18.8 percent) and the Navajo Area (18.5 percent).

Overall, 9 percent of IHS tests have been positive since the onset of the pandemic, the data shows. Meanwhile, the 7-day average leveled off after growing steadily over the last couple of months. It now stands at 13 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, 61.5 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, about 94.7 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 18, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 399,320 8,420 333,992 2.5% 3.1%
Albuquerque 77,246 6,642 54,769 10.8% 13.0%
Bemidji 107,217 7,843 96,453 7.5% 9.8%
Billings 83,407 6,676 72,724 8.4% 8.8%
California 47,594 3,646 41,372 8.1% 11.6%
Great Plains 116,746 12,155 103,986 10.5% 14.9%
Nashville 47,421 3,467 42,981 7.5% 8.3%
Navajo 177,088 22,326 123,287 15.3% 18.5%
Oklahoma City 322,493 36,317 283,130 11.4% 20.8%
Phoenix 124,881 16,699 107,217 13.5% 18.8%
Portland 59,600 5,022 53,785 8.5% 8.3%
Tucson 12,563 1,250 11,229 10.0% 26.3%
TOTAL 1,575,576 130,463 1,324,925 9.0% 13.0%

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

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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