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County makes top 20

Covington County residents made the top 20 in a new ranking of how healthy people are in Alabama.

A report released this week by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranks Covington 16th among Alabama’s 67 counties in overall health outcomes.

“I think they mean all aspects of health care including private care, physicians and hospitals,” said. Covington County Health Department Health Service Administrator Ziba Anderson “I think they are looking at how children and people in general are being taken care in general.”

Researchers used five categories to make the determination, including the rate of death before 75, the percentage of those who reported being in fair or poor health, low birth weight infant rates and the number of days residents reported being in poor physical or mental health.

In addition, the reported looked at health behavior, social and economic factors, physical environment and clinical care.

Anderson said he wasn’t surprised at the county’s ranking.

“Covington County was right where I thought we would be,” he said. “We are blessed to have three hospitals in this county, a lot of good physicians and a good health department that helps keep children immunized.”

Anderson said he was surprised at one area, health behaviors, in which the county ranks 48th out of 67 counties.

“That particular one was a shock to me,” Anderson said. “I thought we would have been higher than that with all the recreation facilities we have.”

In order to increase overall health in the county, Anderson said that residents need to kick their bad habits.

“I think we still have to work on the habits we have as far as smoking and all types of drugs –those types of things really affect the overall health of people,” he said. “If you have a group of people in the county who are doing this, it brings down the numbers.”

Anderson said he encourages people to exercise, drink in moderation and quit smoking.

“Exercise is something we really have to push more,” he said. “The CDC is saying that overall exercising is down throughout the nation.”

The healthiest counties are Shelby, Lee, Baldwin, Madison, Morgan, Limestone, Elmore, Houston, Coffee and Blount.

Full results are available at http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/alabama.