County Health Rankings Highlights Risks & Benefits In Tri-County Area

Wealthier suburban counties such as Montgomery and Howard were ranked as the healthiest in the state.

County Health Rankings also tries to project what may happen in a county by looking at what influences health.

"The main objective of County Health Rankings is to draw attention to where you live matters, good health is more than just seeing a doctor, and not everyone has the same opportunity to be healthy", O'Neill said. Queen Anne's County is just ahead, with 31 overdose deaths per 100,000 over the three years. The adult smoking rate in West Virginia is 26 percent while adult obesity is at 35 percent, according to the report.

Steele County showed better results than Minnesota in the number of people uninsured, 5 percent; the number of primary care physicians and the number of dentists as well as the unemployment rate, 3.3 percent, and children in poverty, 13 percent.

The high school graduation rate is 89 percent, and the unemployment rate is almost 10 percent.

While those are health concerns to watch, Rivas said, Blaine County is still doing much better than most of its state counterparts. In Raleigh, it's 7.3 percent.

In health factors, the county ranks sixth, the same as a year ago.

"It's [premature death rate] pretty high, it's a rate at 9,300, whereas in Florida it's 6,700". The full report for Wisconsin can be found here.

Meanwhile, Apache and Navajo are the two least-healthy counties in Arizona, and Bournhonesque said there are "higher rates of youth disconnection" in these areas.

"The rankings allow local leaders to clearly see and prioritize the challenges they face - whether it's rising premature death rates or the growing drug overdose epidemic - so they can bring community leaders and residents together to find solutions", Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president/CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said in the release.

The county's quality-of-life ranking also dropped from 36th to 47th.

McDowell again had the worst ranking in this category, followed by Mingo and Wyoming counties.

Economists Peter Schott of the Yale School of Management and Justin Pierce of the Federal Reserve have found that mortality rates spiked in counties around the US that suffered the greatest economic disruption after trade policy was changed to make it easier for manufacturers to ship jobs to China or for Chinese companies to do business in the U.S. For people ages 15 to 24, more deaths from motor vehicle crashes and firearm fatalities also played roles in the rise of premature death. From 2014 to 2015, premature deaths increased by 39,700 from 1.2 million.

Among the key findings nationally: More Americans are dying prematurely - defined, in this case, as deaths of people under age 75. Mahnomen County in northwestern Minnesota ranks last in both health outcomes and health factors. But, O'Neill says the stats show a problem in that one-in-eight young people fall into this category, on a national level. This year, 64 percent of the county's population was reported to have some college, whereas in 2016 that number was 63 percent.

Carol Ragugini, director of Commonwealth Health's Choices program, said drug use far outpaces alcohol abuse in the area, and that drug overdose deaths have soared in part because heroin being sold on the streets is cut with Carfentanil, a powerful drug that increases the high but makes an overdose death more likely by neutralizing the impact of narcan, a drug given to reverse the life-threatening effects of an overdose.

  • Larry Hoffman