U.S. News and Aetna Foundation release 2020 Healthiest Communities rankings

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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.  

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. 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

  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

 

For more information on Healthiest Communities, follow coverage on Facebook and Twitter using #HealthiestCommunities.
 
U.S. News Media Contact: Sarah Javors, sjavors@usnews.com, 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.
 

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How healthy food is healing Massachusetts

How healthy food is healing Massachusetts
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Community Servings in Boston, Massachusetts, started in 1990 as a program to feed a small group of AIDS patients suffering from malnutrition. It has turned into a community hub that provides thousands of medically tailored meals each month, job training, and so much more. The COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed their work. In fact, it’s increased demand and CVS Health stepped up to help them hire a temporary workforce of kitchen staff and delivery drivers.

While the restaurant industry continues to struggle, many individuals are going back to work, cooking for their community. The local Plumbers Union donated their trucks and their time to help ramp up deliveries. Over the course of two months, these on-demand solutions helped Community Servings distribute 27,000 entrees to Boys & Girls Clubs, homeless shelters, and others.

David Waters, CEO, points out, “It's the community serving the community. We can accomplish so much together.” In addition to the team featured in the video above, we caught up with COO Kevin Conner, executive chef Brian Hillmer, and Training Kitchen program graduates Ricardo Mercado and Jermaine McNeill, who explain how they make it all happen in this month’s podcast episode.

Tune in and subscribe to our podcast

Listen to Healthy Communities News on the go using your favorite podcast platform.

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Two communities find healthy solutions that work

Two communities find healthy solutions that work
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Welcome to Healthy Communities News — where we highlight communities that are finding innovative solutions to solve local health challenges. Our first episode features communities battling two common and persistent problems: food deserts and heart disease. In Bridgeport, Connecticut, the East End Pop Up Market gives residents easy access to fresh food for the first time in four decades. In Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, church leaders are mixing faith with fitness to stem the tide of heart disease and diabetes in their congregations.


New market gives Bridgeport residents access to fresh food

As the economy struggles and poverty rises in Bridgeport, manufacturing jobs are not the only thing leaving town: Residents have had to go farther and farther to find fresh food. But a group of local businesspeople is looking to reverse that trend. They’re opening the new East End Pop-Up Market, which will offer not only fresh food, but also job training and wellness workshops. It’s a solution that can be a model for food deserts across the country.


Bridgeport market gives entrepreneurs a jump start

Small businesses can revitalize neighborhoods – so the Bridgeport OIC is lending a hand to local entrepreneurs. We talk to Jeff Nelson of Seeding Knowledge, a start-up that plants and maintains gardens and sells produce. He’s expanding his services to the East End Pop-Up Market, where he’ll offer not only fruits and vegetables, but cooking classes and gardening instruction.


Faith begets fitness in Mecklenburg County

Faith leaders, county health officials, the local health system and community groups have proven that it takes a village to address local health issues. The Village HeartBEAT program created a fitness challenge in local congregations. The goal? To help residents battling heart disease and diabetes. The program uses exercise, nutrition and community gardens to help raise the spirits and lower the weight of participants.

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Addressing opioid use disorder through treatment centers instead of prisons

Addressing opioid use disorder through treatment centers instead of prisons
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Local people with local solutions — that’s what we’re all about at Healthy Communities News. In this episode, our host, Hilary Russo, travels to Virginia and North Carolina to check out two communities taking creative approaches to address opioid use disorder. We’ll hear about these innovative solutions from the folks on the ground putting them into action and get a glimpse into recovery from Wanda Jenkins, who is using her experience with opioid use disorder to help others.


A helping hand from someone who’s been there: Gina’s story

In this episode’s podcast, we meet Gina Musa, who advocates passionately for community members in rural North Carolina struggling with opioid use disorder. A former sex worker, Gina draws on her own experience with addiction and recovery to connect people with much-needed resources and support. Today, she is a Linkage to Care Coordinator for the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, a job funded by an Aetna Foundation grant.

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The #1 killer of women: Shining a light on cardiovascular disease

The #1 killer of women: Shining a light on cardiovascular disease
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The number one killer of women is cardiovascular disease. This stark statistic is why the American Heart Association’s national “Go Red for Women” movement is so important. Healthy Communities News was on hand at their annual star-studded Red Dress Collection fashion show in New York City, where we got the opportunity to sit down with four heart disease and stroke survivors for a roundtable discussion. Hear their stories of recovery and hope — and why we need to talk about women’s heart health.


Taking a deep dive into heart health

You can be young, look and feel healthy and still be at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Surprised? Healthy Communities News spoke with Dr. Mosca, a volunteer medical expert with the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement, to get a better of understanding of women’s heart health. We also sat down with Jenny Petz and Nicole Murray, two of the inspiring heart disease and stroke survivors chosen for Go Red for Women’s 2020 class of Real Women to hear their powerful stories of survival and recovery.

Dr. Mosca, a volunteer medical expert with the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement.
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Community joins forces to live healthy in Miami’s Little Havana

Community joins forces to live healthy in Miami’s Little Havana
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Much like the neighborhood for which it is named, the Live Healthy Little Havana program is a mix of many different elements. It’s a community-led initiative, a partnership with the government, a collaboration with health organizations and an effort to improve resident/police relations — all rolled into one.

To really know what a community needs, you have to live there. Talk with your neighbors over the back fence. See the issues with your own eyes. That’s what makes the Live Healthy Little Havana program a success.

Neighborhood residents, working as community liaisons, are at the heart of the work to improve life for those in the community. And everyone’s got a seat at the table, from government representatives to health workers to lifelong residents. It’s a model that’s driving change — and one that other communities can replicate.

Live Healthy Little Havana participants are working on multiple fronts toward a single goal — to improve life for the residents of this storied community. We showed up at one of their events to hear about how it’s working — and watched as kids from the neighborhood vied to be the first to get the local police commander into the dunk tank.

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A look back: 2019 Healthy Communities News

A look back: 2019 Healthy Communities News
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Not all heroes wear capes. Some monitor blood pressure in barbershops. Some fight opioid misuse and addiction in the streets. And some provide training to help their neighbors find meaningful work. At Healthy Communities News, we talk to folks who are improving health in towns and cities across the country. Here’s a sampling of the inspiring stories we were privileged to tell this year. We look forward to introducing you to even more local heroes in 2020!


A look back at our Healthy Communities News podcast

Workforce training that takes a single mom of five from homeless to hopeful in Cleveland. Students debating how to go tobacco-free on a Philadelphia campus. These are two of the exciting stories we’ve covered this past year on our Healthy Communities News podcast. And now you can sample them all on our year-end episode. Whether it’s been about faith leaders joining forces with their congregants to shed weight, or a former sex worker who draws upon her own hard-earned experience with opioids to help others struggling with addiction and recovery, we’ve gone around the country to shine a light on people and programs who are bringing change to their communities. We hope they will inspire you, and we look forward to bringing you more stories of hope this coming year.

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Building trust and rebuilding a community in Louisville

Building trust and rebuilding a community in Louisville
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Healthy Communities News spotlights local people with local solutions to health challenges in their communities. In Louisville, Kentucky, the shadow of segregation and the city’s past reluctance to invest in a historically black community have left many residents distrustful of government. But now, a group of longtime residents are driving efforts to help revitalize their neighborhood — and they’re doing it in partnership with the government. Together, they are creating programs like the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative — which, among other things, helps local kids learn about and experience nature. Because many local families don’t have easy access to parks or forests, the initiative brings nature to the children with a project called ECHO — Engaging Children in the Outdoors. We visited Louisville to learn more.

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Job training for underserved communities in Cleveland

Job training for underserved communities in Cleveland
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People in underserved communities often have trouble getting the job skills they need to find stable employment. That’s why CVS Health launched the Workforce Innovation and Talent Center in Cleveland. The Center provides hands-on training and other resources – like transportation, childcare and housing – to help people find meaningful employment in the health care industry. By helping keep people financially healthy, CVS Health is also helping to build healthier communities across the country.


Workforce Innovation Center’s support takes single mom from homeless to hopeful

In this episode’s podcast, we meet Carrie Robinson, who is a 28-year-old single mom living outside of Cleveland, Ohio. She’s a pharmacy technician — but not too long ago, she and her five kids found themselves homeless. She shared her story about how CVS Health’s Workforce Innovation and Talent Center changed her life. The centers provide people in under served communities with the training, resources and support network they need to be successful. Like Carrie.

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Helping colleges quit tobacco

Helping colleges quit tobacco
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At Healthy Communities News, we spotlight the people and places that are tackling local health challenges in impactful ways. The University of San Francisco (USF) is one of over 200 colleges and universities adopting policies to eliminate tobacco from their campuses as part of the CVS Health Foundation Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative. It’s a part of the $50 million commitment to help deliver the first tobacco-free generation launched by CVS Health soon after it quit selling tobacco products five years ago. We visited USF to see what a tobacco-free campus looks like and sat down with students, staff and our partner at the American Cancer Society for their thoughts on going 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free.


Students talk tobacco: Getting real with Temple University and Truth Initiative

With 99 percent of smokers beginning by the age of 26, college is a critical time to prevent the start of life-long addiction to nicotine and tobacco. Temple University in Philadelphia went smoke- and tobacco-free in July of 2019. We sat down with a group of their students for a candid conversation on how the program is going in its early days. We also chatted with Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative, a national public health organization focused on youth tobacco prevention known for its edgy, award-winning “Truth” campaign.

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