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Posted: December 24, 2020

COVID-19 Indian Country IHS

The Indian Health Service has updated its coronavirus data, showing results as of December 22, 2020.

According to the data, 135,537 tests have returned positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That represents an increase of 0.9 percent from the 134,277 cases previously reported by the IHS.

Altogether, 1,600,819 coronavirus tests have been administered within the IHS through December 22, the data shows. That marks an increase of almost 0.7 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 (15.6 percent), the Phoenix Area (13.6 percent), the Oklahoma City Area (11.8 percent), the Albuquerque Area (10.9 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, three regions have seen dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases. They are: the Oklahoma City Area (22.1 percent), the Navajo Area (21 percent) and the Phoenix Area (21 percent). Two of the three regions include the state of Arizona.

Overall, 9.1 percent of IHS tests have been positive since the onset of the pandemic, the data shows. Meanwhile, the 7-day average has slowly risen over the last several days. It now stands at 13.9 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, 62.9 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, 96.9 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 22, 2020.

IHS Area
positive *
7-day rolling
positivity *
Alaska 406,700 8,582 339,566 2.5% 2.6%
Albuquerque 78,292 6,794 55,699 10.9% 17.1%
Bemidji 109,480 8,035 98,492 7.5% 9.9%
Billings 83,851 6,720 73,619 8.4% 7.9%
California 49,366 3,896 43,048 8.3% 12.9%
Great Plains 118,536 12,438 105,488 10.5% 13.9%
Nashville 48,827 3,646 44,325 7.6% 12.2%
Navajo 182,204 23,279 126,318 15.6% 21.0%
Oklahoma City 332,400 38,511 288,818 11.8% 22.1%
Phoenix 126,557 17,104 108,506 13.6% 21.0%
Portland 62,587 5,220 56,490 8.5% 8.5%
Tucson 12,953 1,312 11,557 10.2% 15.0%
TOTAL 1,611,753 135,537 1,351,926 9.1% 13.9%

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

Source: (Indian Health Service)

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