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2022 State of the County Health Report

Significant/Notable Changes in Morbidity and Mortality

The following represent significant morbidity and mortality changes in our community.

  • Leading Causes of Death Table - Age-Adjusted Death Rates per 100,000 Population

    1. Heart Disease (Rate: 172.1)

    2. Cancer (Rate: 154.9)

    3. All Other Unintentional Injuries (Rate: 58.1)

    4. Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases (Rate: 51.1)

    5. Cerebrovascular Diseases (Rate: 35.4)

  • NC Opioid Dashboard

    • Death rate - 24.1 (2020) vs. 43.3 (2021) per 100,000 residents 

    • Emergency Department visits - 141.2 (2020) vs 105.9 (2021) per 100,000 residents 

    • Unemployment among working - age residents- 6.6% (2020) vs. 2.7 (2021)

  • RWJF County Health Rankings 

    • Alcohol-impaired driving deaths (health behaviors) - 0 (2019) vs. 13 (2020)

    • Dentists (clinical care) - 2150 (2019) vs. 2250 (2020)

    • Poverty (social and economic factors - 17% (2019) vs. 21% (2020)

Emerging Issues Impacting Health

These are the new or emerging issues in our community in 2022 that were not identified as priorities in our Community Health Assessment.

  • Food insecurity remains a community health issue in Haywood County.  In 2018, Feeding America reported over 8200 or 13.6% of Haywood County experienced food insecurity.  Over 19% of children in the county are impacted (NC Child).  The pandemic greatly increased the number of those seeking assistance.  Food distributions increased, with creative solutions such as holiday food bags for students and drive-through events.  Unfortunately, decreasing food donations and increasing fuel costs hit the community hard.     

  • Gun violence- Fourteen individuals visited an emergency department due to firearm injuries of all intents (*NC DETECT, 2022).   

  • Suicide- The county saw 12 suicides, nine due to gunshot wounds (Haywood County Health and Human Services, 2022).  Over 330 individuals visited an emergency department with suicidal ideations (NC DETECT, 2022).  

  • Health equity- Over 13% of the total population lives below the poverty level, with over 22% of those under 18 affected (U.S. Census Bureau. (2021). Poverty Status in the Past 12 Months: ACS 5-Year Estimates. [Data tables]. Available from  This impacts access to healthy food, transportation, and other non-medical influences on health.  

  • Social media misinformation is defined as "any claims or depictions that are inaccurate" and disinformation is defined as "a subset of misinformation intended to mislead" (American Psychological Association). The dissemination of misinformation and disinformation has been a trending topic due to the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Misinformation surrounding COVID-19 was so rampant that the World Health Organization declared a parallel "infodemic" in 2020. Haywood County is no different and has certainly been affected by the spread of misinformation and disinformation potentially impacting the community's trust in local government agencies. 

*NC DETECT is a statewide public health syndromic surveillance system, funded by the NC Division of Public Health (NC DPH) Federal Public Health Emergency Preparedness Grant and managed through collaboration between NC DPH and UNC-CH Department of Emergency Medicine’s Carolina Center for Health Informatics. The NC DETECT Data Oversight Committee does not take responsibility for the scientific validity or accuracy of the methodology, results, statistical analyses, or conclusions presented.

New/Paused/Discontinued Initiatives/Activities

The following are new initiatives or changes in our community in 2022:

  • The county received a $1.5 million Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant.  This program will navigate participants to substance use and mental health treatment, as well as other services needed to promote health.  

  • A portion of American Rescue Plan Act funding was dedicated to a regional health communications campaign.  The campaign is in the planning phase.  It is led by the WNC Health Network and will include input from county stakeholders.   

  • The county began developing its first Comprehensive Recreation Master Plan, including public surveys and input sessions.  The plan was approved in early 2023.  

  • The county received $7 million in funds to support affordable housing.  

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