March 26, 2019

Media Contact:
Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – County Executive Calvin Ball today announced that Howard County is among the Top 10 Healthiest Counties in the nation according to rankings by U.S. News & World Report. The #10 ranking among nearly 3,000 jurisdictions is a significant increase this year from the #20 ranking received in 2018. The county, which was the only top 10 county in Maryland, was also #10 among its peer group of urban, high-performing communities. 

Ball, who was the deciding vote as a Councilmember to make Howard County one of the first smoke-free counties in Maryland noted that, “we continue to invest in innovative health initiatives, partnerships and programs to make us a model healthy community and that’s one reason so many people want to live in Howard County. We are adding resources to combat addiction and teen suicide, providing weekend meals to school children of families in need, using technology such as CAREAPP to reduce health disparities, investing in our bikeway, and opening Howard House, a halfway house for men with substance use issues. While we have already made progress building a healthier and stronger community, with access to quality care, we can and will do better.”

The rankings represent an evaluation of 81 health-related metrics in 10 categories as underwritten by the Aetna Foundation. The categories include Population Health, Equity, Education, Economy, Housing, Food & Nutrition, Environment, Public Safety, Community Vitality, and Infrastructure. They are weighted in that order as part of the health assessment to arrive at an overall score and represent the variety of social and economic factors that contribute to overall community health.

“We continue to work collaboratively with our Local Health Improvement Coalition members across the county to encourage healthy behaviors like physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight,” said Howard County Health Officer Maura Rossman, M.D. “Behavioral health, healthy aging and access to healthcare are identified focus areas in which our partnerships play an important role in improving the populations health. We strive to ensure health equity is achieved by closing any gaps related to racial, gender, educational or economic status.”

Top communities in this national assessment offer residents substantial opportunities to live a productive, healthy life and the data from this study helps inform officials and community leaders about policies and practices that further lead to improved outcomes.

“I was happy to hear that Howard County was named among the 10 healthiest communities in the United States,” said Howard County Council Chairwoman Christiana Mercer Rigby. “Here in Howard County, it is critically important that we build upon our shared values of green space and safely connected communities to ensure that we are advancing the health and well-being of all our residents.”

“I am elated that Howard County will be named the 10th healthiest community in America," said Howard County Council Vice Chair Opel Jones. "Our forward approach to healthy food and beverage options coupled with our commitment to preserve the environment, makes Howard County the anomaly in the country. Upholding this honor is something I look forward doing during my term as the County Council representative for District 2.”

Howard County General Hospital President Steve Snelgrove commented, “This ranking is gratifying, but our goal is to help make Howard County the healthiest community in the nation. These scores validate the efforts that Howard County General Hospital has undertaken with our partners to improve the health of the population and address access to care, obesity and behavioral health issues. But there is more work to do on equity and the social determinants of health, and we are committed to making even more gains.”

About Healthiest Communities 

Healthiest Communities is an interactive platform developed by U.S. News & World Report, in collaboration with the Aetna Foundation. Accompanied by news, analysis and in-depth reporting, the platform features rankings drawn from an examination of nearly 3,000 counties and county equivalents on 81 metrics across 10 categories. Population health and equity are the most highly weighted factors in the methodology, followed closely by education and economy. Data were gathered and analyzed by the University of Missouri Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES).

The rankings are available on the U.S. News Healthiest Communities platform. For more information, visit Healthiest Communities and use #HealthiestCommunities on Facebook and Twitter.

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