Placer County, California ranks among America’s 50 Healthiest Communities

Residents of Placer County live in one of the 50 healthiest communities in the countryaccording to US News & World Report magazine. This is the second year the area scored so well on the annual list.

This year, Placer County ranks 40, up from 35 in 2021. The new score reflects the challenges the county faces with affordable housing and the risk of wildfires.

Dr. Rob Oldham, director of the Placer County Department of Health and Human Services, said this list and a key ranking from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation help county and city leaders identify areas of high performance. which require fine tuning and areas where they fall short which require greater investment.

“The health of our residents takes the whole community,” he said. “We don’t want to celebrate too much … when we see these notes. We still have a long way to go. I think it gives us an opportunity to recognize the community partnerships we have in place that allow us to be as successful as we are.

Placer’s scores in several US News ranking areas show where those partnerships are doing very well, Oldham said. The county’s population health score, for example, was 84 out of 100, which Oldham attributed not only to the county’s public health work, but also to a vibrant health care delivery system in the area. private.

US News also reported that Placer scored 75 or better in a handful of other categories:

Infrastructure, 86. This category looks at statistics related to walkability, internet access, household access to motor vehicles, commuting to work, and distance to public transportation.

Economic, 82, a measure of employment, income levels and opportunity.

Public Safety, 78, which examines crime, injuries, percentages of public safety personnel, spending on health and emergency services, and population proximity to emergency facilities.

Food and nutrition, 77, a measure of food availability and nutrition.

Community vitality, 75, which assesses homeownership levels, population inflows, municipal financial health, census responses, number of nonprofits, neighborhood diversity and voter turnout .

Housing remains a problem

The category that proved most difficult for Placer was the one that so many other California counties struggle with: housing, Oldham said. The county received a rating of 46, the only category where it is less than 50%. The score reflects counties’ performance in housing affordability, capacity and quality.

“Every county in California struggled with that one,” Oldham said. “Affordable housing is a statewide issue. … We have done a lot in the area of ​​housing over the past two years, but obviously we still have a lot to do.”

The only other California counties on the US News list of 100 also posted scores below 50 in this category: San Mateo County ranked 36th overall but scores 34 on housing. Santa Clara County was No. 39 but got a 40 in housing. Marin County came in 78th out of 100 but scored 21 in the housing category.

Low scores on housing and the resulting impact on overall health scores are why heads of state impose fines on cities who are not meeting affordable housing targets and who are spending additional money on build affordable housing.

Placer also performed poorly in the environment category, scoring a 59 in the area that measures air quality, airborne cancer risk, drinking water safety, potential exposure to toxic chemicals, exposure to extreme heat, size of forest cover, access to man-made parks and natural amenities, and risk of natural disasters.

The county’s vast acres of forests have made it vulnerable to wildfires and smoke that pollutes the air.

Addressing Health Equity in Placer County

Oldham said he would also like to see Placer County improve in the action category where he scored a 61and his agency has partnered with community organizations to make inroads with groups that have historically not had health access or benefits.

“Although we are a healthy county, we want to make sure that there are no groups that are not left behind,” he said. “We have some room for improvement there, and again, that coincides with one of the priorities coming out of our (county) strategic plan that we have identified – a county-wide focus to identify where these health disparities continue to exist and how we might close these gaps.

US editors worked with researchers from the University of Missouri to assess nearly 3,000 counties on 10 key areas that contribute to community health. The magazine’s editors and Missouri researchers determined how much weight to give to each area by asking more than a dozen experts to allocate 100 points among the 10 categories.

They then averaged the experts’ results, giving population health a weight of 14.2%, equity 12.23%, education 12.15%, economy 11.1% housing 9.5%, nutrition 8.8%, environment 8.6%, public safety 8.5%, community vitality 7.6%. and infrastructure 7.5%. (Due to rounding, these numbers add up to slightly more than 100%.)

The five healthiest communities nationwide for 2022 are Los Alamos County, NM; Falls Church, Virginia; Douglas County, Colorado; Morgan County, Utah; and Carver County, Minn.

The Missouri researchers also tracked two statistics related to COVID-19, one on deaths and the other on vaccinations.

They found that communities with higher cumulative death rates from COVID-19 tend to have lower rates of post-secondary education, lower life expectancies, and lower percentages of adults who have recently died. engaged in recreational physical activity.

This ranking, established for five years now, also showed a relationship between the level of education and the willingness to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Communities with a higher level of education – as measured by the share of the population with an associate’s degree or higher – tended to have higher COVID-19 vaccination rates, as well as higher rates. high booster shots.


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