New platform provides real-time COVID-19 metric data on more than 3,000 counties; spotlights the disproportionate impact of the virus on Black and Hispanic communities
Washington, D.C. – September 22, 2020 – U.S. News & World Report, in collaboration with the Aetna Foundation, an independent, charitable and philanthropic affiliate of CVS Health, today released the third annual Healthiest Communities rankings. 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.
“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,” said Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer at U.S. News. “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.”
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,” said Garth Graham, vice president of community health and chief community health officer, CVS Health. “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.”
The Healthiest Communities rankings, underwritten by the Aetna Foundation, are part of a $100 million commitment by CVS Health and its affiliates to making community health and wellness central to the company’s charge for a better world. The Building Healthier Communities initiative, which will be funded over five years by CVS Health and the CVS Health and Aetna foundations, builds upon the outstanding tradition of community investment by CVS Health and Aetna and advances CVS Health’s purpose of helping people on their path to better health.
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. The project serves as a tool to inform residents, community health leaders and elected officials about policies and best practices for better health outcomes by assessing which communities offer their citizens the greatest opportunity to live a productive, healthy life.
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 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 Healthiest Communities rankings are the centerpiece of a platform featuring in-depth reporting and analysis on community and public health issues, as well as comprehensive data covering the full spectrum of factors that influence population health. This year, new measures explore medical debt, census self-response rates and eviction rates within communities. Healthiest Communities is part of U.S. News’ Government Rankings initiative, which measures government performance at the international, state and local levels and includes the Best States, Best Countries, and Cities projects.
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. Learn more here.
2020 Healthiest Communities- Top 10
*See the full rankings here
- Los Alamos County, New Mexico
- Douglas County, Colorado
- Falls Church, Virginia
- Broomfield County, Colorado
- Routt County, Colorado
- Loudoun County, Virginia
- Pitkin County, Colorado
- Carver County, Minnesota
- Summit County, Colorado
- San Miguel County Colorado
2020 Key Measures
Top 5 Communities for Good Health Outcomes
- San Juan County, Washington
- Marin County, California
- Carver County, Minnesota
- Cedar County, Nebraska
- Winneshiek County, Iowa
Top 5 Communities for Access to Health Care
- Olmstead County, Minnesota
- Suffolk County, Massachusetts
- Johnson County, Iowa
- Perry County, Kentucky
- District of Columbia
Top 5 Communities for Mental Health
- Honolulu County, Hawaii
- Tripp County, South Dakota
- Pembina County, North Dakota
- Sutton County, Texas
- Hartley County, Texas
For more information on Healthiest Communities, follow coverage on Facebook and Twitter using #HealthiestCommunities.
U.S. News Media Contact: Sarah Javors, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-955-2153
Aetna Foundation Media Contact: Ethan Slavin, SlavinE@aetna.com, 860-273-6095
About U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report is the global leader in quality rankings that empower people to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives. A digital news and information company focused on Education, Health, Money, Travel, Cars and News, USNews.com provides consumer advice, rankings and analysis to serve people making complex decisions throughout all stages of life. More than 40 million people visit USNews.com each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S. News is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
About the Aetna Foundation
The Aetna Foundation is an independent, charitable and philanthropic affiliate of CVS Health (NYSE:CVS). For more information, visit www.aetnafoundation.org.