Utah ranks as most resilient state for ability to endure disasters like a pandemic or earthquakes

(Jeremy Harmon | Tribune file photo) Carlos Morales, left, and a family member work to clean up the inside of their home in Magna following an earthquake that hit the area on March 18, 2020.

Utahns’ health, family finances and household structure may make Utah the best able of any state to absorb, endure and recover from disasters such as a pandemic, earthquakes or floods.

That’s according to new experimental data released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau, in what it calls new “community resilience estimates.”

It looked at how different states, counties and communities stack up on 11 different risk factors by using data from the 2018 American Community Survey, Population and Housing Estimates and the National Center for Health Statistic National Health Interview Survey.

The risk factors measured range from residents with diabetes, asthma or heart disease to how many residents are over age 65; households where no one who was employed; how many people lack health insurance; how many lived in single-adult homes; poverty rates; crowding in housing; or lack in a household of a high school diploma or someone who speaks English.

Utah ranked the lowest among the states for households with three or more of the risk factors at 19%. It was followed by New Hampshire and Vermont, which both had 21%.

The state with the most households that had three or more risk factors was Arizona, with 32%.

The new research also said 51% of Utah households had one or two risk factors, and 30% had zero. (It tied for No. 6 among the states for the highest number of households with zero risk factors.)

The research found that resilience varies among Utah’s counties.

The county with the lowest rankings was San Juan, home to part of the large Navajo reservation. It was the only county in the state where more than 30% of households had more than three risk factors — 32%. Also, 52% had one or two risk factors and 16% had zero.

At the other end of the spectrum, three counties in Utah had fewer than 15% of their households with three or more risk factors: Morgan at 11% and Tooele and Summit at 14%.

Along the Wasatch Front, Salt Lake County had 23% of households with three or more risk factors; 65% with one or two; and 11% with zero.

Utah County had 15% with three or more risk factors; 62% with one or two; and 23% with zero. Davis County had 16% with three or more; 57% with one or two; and 27% with zero. Weber County had 20% with three or more; 61% with one or two; and 19% with zero.

The Census Bureau said it developed the new estimates to help communities work to reduce impacts from disasters.

“Local planners, policy makers, public health officials, and community stakeholders can use the estimates as one tool to help assess the potential resiliency of communities and plan mitigation strategies,” it said.