Los Alamos County, New Mexico is ranked the healthiest community in America, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 rankings.
As for the other healthy communities, six of the top ten counties are in Colorado and two are in Virginia.
U.S. News uses public health data and information from health insurance company Aetna.
Access to healthy food, clean water, health care, school and law enforcement spending are considered. New components like evictions and how well people are coping with economic changes also are part of the rankings.
In most cases, the higher the health ranking, the better the area did with COVID-19.
“What helped them do better was if they had an infrastructure that was able to handle the pandemic, like access to hospitals, access to emergency rooms and access to health care in general,” said Joe Williams, Senior News Editor at U.S. News.
Better educated and physically healthy populations also coped better with the virus, two areas where there are historic racial disparities.
“The counties that tend to be ranked at the top tend to be whiter and that corresponds with higher income, corresponds with higher education, so it’s really difficult to find a majority minority county that's actually doing pretty good in our measures,” said Williams.
Counties that moved up in rankings spent more on health infrastructure. Counties near big suburbs brought in more jobs.
There are simpler ways to improve community health. Williams says some communities do better by developing a system of parks and walkable locations, like in Tazewell County, Illinois.
That county also managed to improve its rank by bringing down the teen pregnancy rate through a school education program.