Access to high-quality medical care is critically important to public health, but it’s only part of a community’s overall well-being.  Many factors outside of medical care, such as public safety, education, and transportation, have a profound influence on community health.  Local governments play vital roles in so many of these areas – from public safety to parks and recreation.  The 2018 Presidential Initiative seeks to promote awareness of counties’ efforts to build healthy communities and help counties learn from each other’s successes.

This page is designed to serve as a resource library on this important topic.  I hope the information shared here is helpful to you, and I look forward to working with my VACo colleagues to make Virginia counties the healthiest in the country!

Sherrin Alsop


There is a wealth of information available on the health of Virginia communities, and I encourage you to explore some of the recently-released reports that provide data on an assortment of health-related indicators.

• The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released its 2018 County Health Rankings on March 14. Counties are ranked based on health outcomes (such as premature deaths and percentages of babies born at low birth weights) and health factors (such as air pollution levels, high school graduation rates, levels of violent crime, and length of commutes).

• U.S. News and World Report also published its Healthiest Communities Rankings in March. These rankings were compiled based on an assortment of factors, including housing affordability, food availability, and crime rates.

• The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) produces the Virginia Health Opportunity Index, which includes a profile of each county based on environmental factors, consumer opportunity, economic opportunity, and wellness disparities; each profile contains data on these factors for each census tract within a county.

• A look at the state’s goals for better community health is available in Virginia’s Plan for Well-Being, compiled by VDH and the Virginia Center for Health Innovation in 2016. This document outlines 13 goals for the years 2016-2020, which are grouped under four broad aims:  healthy, connected communities; a strong start for children; preventive actions; and a system of health care.  Goals include social aspects of public health, including kindergarten preparedness and economic stability for families.  Specific metrics are associated with each goal.  An update was published in 2017 reporting on progress for each metric; a 2018 update was provided to the Joint Commission on Health Care in August 2018.

• The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) publishes a public data portal for state and locality-level health measures on cancer, chronic disease, maternal & child health, health behaviors, drinking water, opioid addiction, and other important public health topics. In addition, census data and demographics data are visualized for understanding changes in population characteristics.

Virginia’s Plan For Well-Being Measures

Click here to watch the Webinar | VACo Contact: Katie Boyle


Sherrin Alsop | Supervisor | King & Queen County |

Katie Boyle | Director of Government Affairs |