Travis, Williamson counties make top 10 in statewide county health rankings

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High numbers of physicians and several socioeconomic factors—including low unemployment and violent crime rates—contributed to keeping Travis County and Williamson County among the healthiest counties across the state, according to a report published March 19.

Williamson County and Travis County ranked third and seventh, respectively, in the 2019 County Health Rankings for Texas published March 19. The annual report, produced by the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, analyzes contributing health factors of counties nationwide.

County Health Rankings collects and evaluates a range of health-related data for its report, including quality of life, smoking habits, obesity rates, housing, mental health providers, employment rates and more, according to the group’s website.

“The county health rankings are one of the many tools we use to help us understand our strengths and assess our most pressing health issues so that we can work together on solutions,” said Derrick Neal, Williamson County and Cities Health District executive director, in a release.

Both Williamson and Travis counties have ranked in the top 10 healthiest counties across the state since 2014, according to records from County Health Rankings.

This year, a number of contributing factors continued the successful health rankings for each county. Williamson and Travis counties carried some of the best scores statewide for quality of life rankings, health behaviors and habits, access to clinical care and social and economic factors.

Numbers from County Health Rankings show that Travis County’s low adult obesity rate is ranked among some of the top counties nationwide.

Additionally, both counties scored among the best in the state for smoking rates and for access to exercise opportunities.

Travis County and Williamson County both scored above the statewide average for their ratios of physicians to residents. According to County Health Rankings, Travis County has 1,170 residents for every physician, and Williamson County has 1,510 residents for every physician. The statewide average ratio is 1,660 residents for every physician. Travis County scored similarly well in access to dentists and mental health care providers.

Williamson County boasts one of the lowest percentages of residents who are uninsured for health care, according to the report. The statewide average for uninsured residents sits at 19 percent, and Williamson County has 11 percent of its population uninsured. Travis County is also below the state average, with 15 percent of its residents uninsured.

County Health Rankings scored the two counties as some of the highest in the state for social and economic factors, such as unemployment, violent crime and education rates. Williamson County scored third overall in the state in the report’s social and economic factors rankings, while Travis County ranked 23rd.

The two counties both scored lower on the report’s rankings of physical environment factors, such as daily commutes, clean air and clean water. Williamson County and Travis County had an average daily density of fine particulate matter in micrograms per cubic meter of 10.4 and 10.5, respectively. Those scores are higher than the statewide average of 8.8 average daily density of fine particulate matter in micrograms per cubic meter, according to County Health Rankings.

In 2018, the Williamson County and Cities Health District initiated its Community Health Assessment process, a seven-month assessment that will be used to design the 2020-2022 County Health Improvement Plan. That plan, which is updated every three years, identifies the county’s largest health care priorities.

“Critical to this process are the Health District’s many partners such as stakeholders at the local, county and state level, healthcare partners, school districts, nonprofit partners and The WilCo Wellness Alliance Coalition,” Neal said in the March 19 press release.

Williamson County residents can submit public comment for the County Health Assessment until April 2. Copies of the assessment can be found on the Healthy Williamson County website.

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Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the reporter for Northwest Austin.
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