The Healthiest (and Least Healthy) States During the Pandemic May Surprise You
A new state emerged as the healthiest in America last year.
By Blake Harper May 26 2021, 1:38 PM
We all became more aware of our health over the last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to be more aware of how they were taking care of their physical and mental wellbeing. But which states did the best job maintaining their health through 2020 and, conversely, which states did the worst?
Sharecare’s Community Well-Being Index ranks the 50 states based on healthiness, with the rankings being determined by 10 categories that contribute to public health, including health care, food access, housing and transportation, community and social bonds, and financial management skills.
To compile the rankings, researchers from Sharecare and the Boston University School of Public Health spoke to nearly half a million respondents across every state. And the results showed that if health is your priority, you should probably head to the northeast or west, as nearly every state in the top 10 was located in those two areas (Hawaii being about as far west as you can go).
The 10 Healthiest States in 2020:
- New Jersey
- New York
Hawaii had been the longstanding healthiest state but was unseated by Massachusetts in 2020, in large part due to the pandemic having a massive financial impact on Hawaii, a state that relies largely on the tourism industry.
Other than Hawaii, states in the northeast occupied the rest of the top five, which Senior vice president and head of the Community Well-Being Index at Sharecare Elizabeth Colyer said was likely because of those states “having that strong access to infrastructure and health care resources.”
The least healthy states of 2020 were mostly in the midwest or south and most of them ranked low in categories of financial security and individual wellbeing.
Mississippi was ranked dead last and was last in six of the 10 categories, including community, financial, and social wellbeing. It was followed not too far behind by its neighbor Arkansas, which was last in physical wellbeing. Lack of access to resources was also a major factor in several of the low-ranking states.
The 10 Least Healthy States in 2020:
47. West Virginia
48. New Mexico
You can read the entire report here.