Los Alamos County, New Mexico, is the healthiest community in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2021 Healthiest Communities Rankings, which ranks counties and county equivalents on 10 health-related criteria.
For the rankings, U.S. News and the Aetna Foundation evaluated and scored around 3,000 U.S. counties and county equivalents in 10 categories considered by the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics to be key factors in community health:
- Population health, weighted 14.2%;
- Equity, weighted 12.2%;
- Education, weighted 12.2%;
- Economy, weighted 11.1%;
- Housing, weighted 9.5%;
- Food and nutrition, weighted 8.8%;
- Environment, weighted 8.6%;
- Public safety, weighted 8.5%;
- Community vitality, weighted 7.6%; and
- Infrastructure, weighted 7.5%.
Each county was scored on a scale of zero to 100 in each of the 10 categories. To calculate the overall score for each county, researchers then calculated a weighted average of the subcategories, which they then used to identify the 500 healthiest communities.
The healthiest communities in the U.S.
The top 10 healthiest communities in the United States, according to U.S. News, are:
- Los Alamos County, New Mexico;
- Douglas County, Colorado;
- Falls Church City, Virginia;
- Loudoun County, Virginia;
- Broomfield County, Colorado;
- San Miguel County, Colorado;
- Pitkin County, Colorado;
- Howard County, Maryland;
- Morgan County, Utah; and
- Routt County, Colorado.
For complete rankings, including a list of the 500 healthiest communities in the United States, click here.
How the 'Healthiest Communities' are responding to Covid-19 vaccines
Alongside its rankings, U.S. News published an editorial exploring Covid-19 vaccination rates in the "Healthiest Communities."
According to the publication's analysis of CDC vaccination data, "Healthiest Communities" were far more likely than other communities to have achieved a Covid-19 vaccination rate of at least 50%. Specifically, among the 100 "Healthiest Communities," 25% had fully vaccinated at least half of their residents, compared to 17% among the 500 "Healthiest Communities" and just 5% of all communities.
According to U.S. News, these findings suggest a potential link between a community's existing health indicators and its willingness to embrace Covid-19 vaccines.
"What I'm finding in my work as a health officer and what others are finding is that the time to have changed vaccine hesitancy was 10 years ago," David Bishai, a professor of public health at Johns Hopkins University and health officer for Harford County, Maryland, said. "Preparedness for a pandemic requires building channels of trust, relationships with the entire county, and you can't build them in the middle of a pandemic—you need to build them for years." (Matthews, U.S. News & World Report, 6/29; Minemyer, Fierce Healthcare, 6/29; U.S. News & World Report, "Healthiest Communities Rankings 2021," accessed 7/1; U.S. News & World Report Healthiest Communities Rankings 2021 methodology, accessed 7/1)