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April 01, 2020

Census 2020 in the Time of Pandemic

Census 2020 in the Time of Pandemic

By: Pam Lamberger

Are you in Pandemic overload yet? Many are finding themselves spending a lot more time at home than ever before. Whether you are embarked on an unplanned adventure of home schooling, competing with your work-from-home spouse for computer-time and bandwidth, or updating your resume for an unexpected job-search, Covid-19 is never far from mind. Despite the uncharted course we find ourselves on, it is important to maintain the standard elements of modern life – paying taxes, voting, and taking part in the census. Be sure to set aside a slice of time for completing your 2020 Census questionnaire. You can accomplish this online at my2020census.gov (a new option), by phone at 1-844-330-2020, or with the traditional mail-in form. Those who have not responded online or by phone by April 8 will receive a paper questionnaire by mail.

April 1 is the official Census Day, but you have probably already received your distinctive blue invitation from the U.S. Census Bureau in the mail. Mine came a couple of weeks ago and I decided to get online and complete it that very day. Being new at the work-from-home routine, I seized on the opportunity to share my responses and temporarily relieve the monotony of self-isolation. The online process was seamless; within just 10 minutes, I was printing my confirmation notice. Here is a video instruction guide to completing the census, if you need help. This guide is also available in Spanish.

For those who do not have a standard mailing address or who fail to comply with the initial mailings, Census workers normally follow-up with an in-person visit in mid-May. Unfortunately, the need for social distancing has caused a delay in training for those Census workers, which may have a negative impact on getting a valid count. A great deal of government funding for social services is at stake, as are political representation and critical data used for community and business planning. Getting the full count right is very important; everyone should step-up! Due to the disruptions caused by the Pandemic, our state and local governments will need their fair share of federal money now more than ever!

Some may worry about sharing their personal information on the census. You should know that census responses are protected by law and completely confidential. Census Bureau workers are prohibited from sharing personal census responses with anyone, including law enforcement, courts, or any other government agency. In addition, you can rest assured that there are no questions on the census asking about citizenship status. Take a quick minute to watch this fun video titled, Is My 2020 Census Safe?

Indiana’s final response rate for the last census in 2010 was 69.6%, a good total but we can do better in 2020! According to 2020census.gov, as of March 28 the self-response rate for IN as a whole was 36.7%, Hamilton County was 41.7%, Fishers was 42.8% and Noblesville was at 43.2%. These numbers show that we are off to a good start but we still have a long way to go. You can view a map that shows the real-time self-response tallies, which are updated daily.

At some point, people will emerge from the pervasive stay-at-home orders of the Coronavirus Pandemic to resume a new-normal version of daily life. That is when the outcome of the 2020 Census will begin to affect and influence our lives. Knowing that you and those who share your household are represented will give you ownership in the collective whole of your county, state, and country. What a great way to launch the new decade. Stay well, and be counted!