Efforts continue to promote 2020 Census response
Every 10 years, since 1790, United States citizens have been asked to complete the census.
They have done so amid wars, national crises, and more, but the census has never been completed during a nationwide pandemic having as much impact as COVID-19.
As a result, some residents are concerned they may miss the deadline to return their census.
Southern Seven Health Department and Head Start reports that residents now have until October 31 to complete their census.
The health department, as well as the City of Anna, are continuing their efforts to encourage area residents to complete their census.
City of Anna
An effort is underway in the City of Anna to help promote continued participation in this year’s census.
In March, the city reported on Facebook that Anna had a census response rate of 34.2 percent – which was on the top 10 response rates in the nation.
Continued strong participation in the census was on the agenda for a regular meeting of the Anna City Council.
The meeting was Tuesday evening, April 21. The meeting was conducted by teleconference in response to the ongoing coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
During the meeting, city administrator Dori Bigler presented a proposal which was approved by the council to move forward with a multifaceted media campaign to promote participation in the census by the people of Anna.
The city has received an additional $2,500 in grant funding through the Illinois Public Health Association to help with promoting the census. The city previously had been awarded a $5,000 grant from the association for helping to boost awareness about the census.
Bigler discussed a possible incentive program to help to encourage the people of Anna to participate in the census. Bigler said she would finalize plans for the incentive program for the city council to review.
Southern Seven Health Department
On April 19, 55.4 percent of all Illinois households had responded to their census. The nation’s response rate was 50.7 percent.
The counties included in the Southern Seven Health Department region reported 41.0 percent of households had responded to their census.
The highest response rate for the 2020 Census so far was found in Union County at 56.8 percent, with the lowest in Hardin County at 15.8 percent.
“That’s a big difference for two counties served by the same health department,” Southern Seven noted in a news release.
Response rates for the other five counties served by Southern Seven include:
Massac County, 51.1 percent. Johnson County, 50.8 percent. Pulaski County, 40.3 percent. Pope County, 36.1 percent. Alexander County, 36 percent.
Of the seven counties served by the health department, Hardin County appears to be impacted the most by the pandemic when it comes to completing the census.
Hardin County is considered a “Hard to Count” community, primarily because of its rural nature, when compared with the other counties.
In 2010, the majority of Hardin County residents received their census by hand delivery.
With social distancing guidelines in place due to COVID-19, hand delivery throughout the nation is expected to begin no earlier than June 1.
Southern Seven explained that in addition to waiting for a census to be hand delivered, there are three ways to complete the census: online, by phone or by mail.
“Whichever you prefer, you must provide either your census ID number that you received in the mail or your home address to answer the nine-question survey,” the health department reported.
The census can be completed securely online anywhere at My2020Census.gov.
Another option for completing the census is by phone. For English, call 844-330-2020. For Spanish, call 844-468-2020.
The process may take a little longer than the online version, but it is just as secure, Southern Seven stated.
The final option is to wait for the census questionnaire to be mailed to you. These will be sent to those with a home mailing address.
Throughout the nation, residents who receive their mail through a post office box will not receive their census questionnaire in the mail.
The U.S. Census Bureau does not deliver census questionnaires to post office boxes. Sending census packets to post office boxes would be too costly, since many businesses use them and some people use both a post office box and a physical address to receive their mail.
Census questionnaires are delivered to “Current Resident” only. Those who receive their mail at their home address should expect them to be delivered by July 31.
Southern Seven Health Department says it is vital to be prepared for disasters and pandemics like COVID-19.
Being prepared for these incidents relies heavily on funding received through the census.
Southern Seven Health Department serves more than 65,000 people in the lower seven counties in Illinois.
From 2010 to 2019, residents in the lower seven counties in the state 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 today.