(Richmond, Va.) — Falls Church city ranks as the healthiest locality in Virginia and Petersburg city ranks as the least, according to new County Health Rankings data published today by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The report ranks localities in Virginia by health outcomes and the underlying factors that influence health. The health rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.
This year’s report focuses on the importance of economic security for all communities, especially as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, six new measures were introduced. One is childcare cost burden, which can pose a threat to economic security for families. In Virginia’s counties, it ranges from 14 to 36 percent. According to the report, the typical cost burden of childcare among U.S. counties is about 25 percent of household income, higher than the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ benchmark of seven percent.
Another new health measure included in the report is COVID-19 deaths in 2020. Virginia’s rate, 56 deaths per 100,000 people, is lower than the national rate of 85 per 100,000. Only 79 percent (103) of Virginia’s localities were included in this measure; 26 percent of them exceeded the national average.
An additional measure that is important as Virginia recovers from the pandemic is the average number of “mentally unhealthy days” people reported in the past 30 days. At 4.2 days, Virginia is slightly better than the national average of 4.5 days. Virginia’s counties ranged from 3.3 to 5.8 days. Mental health outcomes are an important measure because untreated mental health disorders have a serious impact on physical health and are associated with the prevalence, progression, and outcome of some of today’s most pressing chronic diseases.
“The results of the study make it clear that health disparities and inequities occur, not only between regions of the Commonwealth, but also within localities, even the wealthy ones,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “While change in health-influencing factors takes time, the Virginia Department of Health is committed to supporting its local health departments and focusing on improving the health and well-being of all people in Virginia. We will be taking an analytical, evidence-based look at all of these factors, and incorporating them into the next state health improvement plan, Virginia’s Plan for Well-Being, with the intent of improving measurable health outcomes that truly matter to Virginians.”
For more information on the 2022 County Health Rankings, visit www.countyhealthrankings.org. For more information on public health resources throughout Virginia, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/local-health-districts.