Anna, county leading way in Census response
The City of Anna and Union County as a whole are leading the way when it comes to responding to the 2020 Census.
The nationwide count continues in the midst of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
The City of Anna reported March 24 on Facebook that the city’s Census response rate was 34.2 percent. Anna had one of the top 10 response rates in the nation.
The Union County city has been working hard to promote participation in the Census.
Students in Anna School District No. 37 were invited to participate in a contest to create Census posters.
District 37 art teacher Josh Shearer taught students about the Census. Shearer then had the students create Census posters.
Prizes were awarded in the poster contest. Plans call for posters which earned first-place honors to be turned into art work on Shawnee Mass Transit District buses.
A ceremony had been scheduled on March 21 to honor the Census poster winners. The ceremony was postponed due to the pandemic.
The poster contest winners include:
The 2020 Poster Winners Are:
1st place: Zakira Kerr
2nd place: Sophey Spurlock
3rd place: Taryn Koontz
1st place: Ava Frazier
2nd place: Camryn Kelley
3rd place: Julian Brust
1st place: Tyler Haywood
2nd place: Taylor Crews
3rd place: Madelyn Ahlberg
1st place: Saige Street
2nd place: Elias Harner
3rd place: Lauren Jackson
1st place: Halsey Aragon
2nd place: Morgan Casey
3rd place: Kaitlyn Matuszewich
Union County Has Highest Response Rate
As of March 21, Union County had the highest response rate to the 2020 Census among seven Southern Illinois counties.
The counties are served by the Southern Seven Health Department.
The rollout of the 2020 Census began on March 12, when the U.S. Bureau sent postcard reminders to every household nationwide to complete their census.
Southern Seven Health Department reported that it is already getting a glimpse into the region’s response rate.
As of March 21, 21.8 percent of all Illinois households had responded to their census. The nation’s response rate was 19.2 percent.
Southern Seven reported 19.1 percent of households in the lower seven counties in the state had responded to their census.
“This is good news for the region because it shows the lower seven counties are on track with the state and the country,” Southern Seven Health Department community outreach coordinator/public information officer Shawnna Rhine reported.
“But it does require continued observation given that the overall response rate of the southern seven counties for the 2010 Census was just 59.8 percent, compared with 70.5 percent for the State of Illinois and 79.3 percent for the nation.”
Southern Seven reports the differences among the seven counties served by the department are reflective in their response rates.
The highest response rate for the 2020 Census so far was found in Union County at 30.5 percent, with the lowest in Hardin County at 0.8 of a percent.
The five remaining counties in the region served by Southern Seven had the following response rates:
Massac 24.8 percent, Johnson 24 percent, Pulaski 20 percent, Alexander 17.2 percent and Pope 16.4 percent.
The health department said that Hardin County is considered a “Hard to Count” community, primarily because of the rural status of the county compared with the other counties served by Southern Seven.
Internet service is scarce and communities are often miles apart.
In 2010, the majority of Hardin County residents received their census by hand delivery.
Of the 0.8 of a percent who had responded to their 2020 census, 0.7 of a percent did so online, which could indicate that Census employees will be knocking on doors again in 2020.
But it’s unclear why Hardin County residents’ response rate is so much lower than the other counties, the health department reported.
The majority of residents in the other six counties completed their census by mail or phone, not online. This is something Southern Seven said it will continue to monitor throughout the census period.
Because there is no way to gauge where the current response rate is compared with the same time frame in 2010, Southern Seven said it is working diligently to get everyone in the region to complete the census.
The health department noted that “completing the census is not for what happens today, but for what happens tomorrow.”
Southern Seven says it knows how vital it is to be prepared for disasters and pandemics like COVID-19.
Being prepared for these incidents relies heavily on funding received through the census statistics.
A complete count in the census also impacts funding for a wide range of programs and services.
The department serves more than 65,000 people in the lower seven counties in Illinois.
From 2010 through 2019, residents in the lower seven counties in Illinois missed out on nearly $12.5 million in federal funding.
Those dollars would have provided resources for agencies in those counties to respond to incidents like COVID-19.
Southern Seven said the census includes only nine questions, can take as little at 10 minutes to complete and is completely confidential.
Federal law protects census responses. Information cannot be shared with anyone, including immigration and law enforcement agencies or determine your eligibility for government benefits. Personal information from the census cannot be shared with anyone for 72 years.