The 2020 County Health Rankings, which provide local population health data to better understand the needs of communities across the country, were released in late March, giving new insight into how Colorado counties fare on several health indicators. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released the rankings annually for a decade.
The rankings illustrate how long and how well people live based on an analysis of five health outcomes and over two dozen health factors. The 2020 County Health Rankings include several new indicators, including data related to juvenile arrests, suicides, traffic volume, and third-grade reading and math scores, as well as data it has been using for years about adult smoking, preventable hospital stays, and income inequality.
Detailed local data are critical to understanding and addressing our differing communities’ needs. They allow community leaders and residents to design and implement strategies that create opportunities for everyone to lead their healthiest life possible.
As the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic play out, access to health care, healthy food, and housing are particularly pressing questions for many people. The County Health Rankings offer insight into what areas of the state were already facing challenges in these areas.
In Colorado, counties along the Front Range have better access to care; counties in the rural east and south of the state have improved over time but have lower overall scores. Meanwhile, around 5 percent of Coloradans do not have access to healthy foods, and 17 percent experience severe housing problems such as overcrowding or high housing costs, according to the rankings. These issues are also particularly prevalent in some southern and rural counties.