U.S. News & World Report, in collaboration with the Aetna Foundation, an affiliate of CVS Health, has released the third annual Healthiest Communities rankings, it announces.

This year, the rankings are accompanied by new tools tracking COVID-19 data, as well as in-depth editorial analysis on relationships between COVID-19 and the social determinants of health in populations at the local level, especially in underserved communities across America.

Separate from the rankings, the new COVID-19 tools track case numbers, death rates, unemployment and more. Updates in near real-time – as frequently as daily – allow users to visualize data and gain an up-to-date understanding of the county-level impact of COVID-19. The new pages also include factors such as obesity and diabetes prevalence that could place a county more at risk from COVID-19. The COVID-19 tools complement existing, pre-pandemic rankings data to reveal multiple correlations between the coronavirus pandemic and community health, the release explains.

“During this unprecedented year, the Healthiest Communities initiative continues to highlight important components of community health while synthesizing the new COVID-19 metrics, providing an in-depth look at the impact of the disease on communities.

U.S. News brings 30 years of high-quality health journalism and data expertise to this project highlighting social determinants of health and providing context to the current state of each community.”

— Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer at U.S. News

The 2020 rankings are accompanied by editorial pieces that explore these correlations, including the link between COVID-19 cases and community vitality, a measurement that includes voting and census participation. The U.S. News editorial team also spotlights the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and Hispanic communities, as a Healthiest Communities analysis shows counties with a majority share of Black or Hispanic residents have an average case rate and death rate that is above the national average.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought attention to the existing disparities in our health care system that have a significant impact on underserved communities.

“Using data from the Healthiest Communities rankings can help create insight on how to better address COVID-19 at the community level, while also helping health care organizations develop solutions to combat the health inequities that have plagued our underserved communities for many years.”

— Garth Graham, vice president of community health and chief community health officer, CVS Health

Top-Ranked Communities

For 2020, the top five Healthiest Communities score above the national average in at least eight of the 10 categories, including Los Alamos County, New Mexico – the healthiest community in the United States. Douglas County, Colorado, came in at No. 2, followed by Falls Church, Virginia, at No. 3. Broomfield County, Colorado, moved to No. 4, and Routt County, Colorado, rounded out the list at No. 5.

The Healthiest Communities rankings and accompanying analysis are based on an evaluation of nearly 3,000 communities nationwide across 84 health and health-related metrics in 10 categories, from Education and Population Health to Infrastructure and Environment.

To compile the rankings and create the overall Healthiest Communities project, U.S. News partnered with the University of Missouri Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES), a research institution skilled in community health assessment.

Overall, the rankings are based on metrics drawn from sources such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The data used to compile the 2020 Healthiest Communities rankings come from a period predating the COVID-19 pandemic and were not affected by the pandemic’s impact on communities, the release continues.

As a part of the 2020 Healthiest Communities rankings, U.S. News will be hosting the inaugural Community Health Leadership Forum webinar series. Themes will cover building the foundation of a healthy community, key takeaways from the 2020 health crises and addressing racism as a threat to public health. Sessions also include conversations with Community Health Leadership award winners in recognition of their incredible work. The first webinar will be on September 22 from 1-2:15 p.m. ET, and sessions will continue through the fall.

2020 Healthiest Communities- Top 10

  1. Los Alamos County, New Mexico
  2. Douglas County, Colorado
  3. Falls Church, Virginia
  4. Broomfield County, Colorado
  5. Routt County, Colorado
  6. Loudoun County, Virginia
  7. Pitkin County, Colorado
  8. Carver County, Minnesota
  9. Summit County, Colorado
  10. San Miguel County Colorado

2020 Key Measures

Top 5 Communities for Good Health Outcomes

  1. San Juan County, Washington
  2. Marin County, California
  3. Carver County, Minnesota
  4. Cedar County, Nebraska
  5. Winneshiek County, Iowa

Top 5 Communities for Access to Health Care

  1. Olmstead County, Minnesota
  2. Suffolk County, Massachusetts
  3. Johnson County, Iowa
  4. Perry County, Kentucky
  5. District of Columbia

Top 5 Communities for Mental Health

  1. Honolulu County, Hawaii
  2. Tripp County, South Dakota
  3. Pembina County, North Dakota
  4. Sutton County, Texas
  5. Hartley County, Texas

[Source(s): U.S. News & World Report, PR Newswire]

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