Census Day, April 1, a reminder to complete the national headcount form

April 01 2020

Filling out the questionnaire, either online, by phone, or by mail, is required by law

By Richard Bammer | rbammer@thereporter.com | Vacaville Reporter

PUBLISHED: March 31, 2020 at 3:59 p.m. | UPDATED: March 31, 2020 at 4:00 p.m.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared Wednesday, April 1, as “Take a Break and Be Counted Day”

While her suggestion is meant to encourage residents of the Great Lakes State to complete the 2020 Census, it could apply to anyone living in the United States, to take a quick 10 minutes and complete the census form online, the easiest way to do it.

With cellphone, tablet, laptop open, stand up, sit down, or lie in bed and be counted — and it truly only takes about 10 minutes, less time than a PBS pledge break, to complete.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has emptied out the world’s public spaces and affected billions of human lives, the census, the every-10-years national headcount, continues, with some delays, but everyone is still required by law to respond.

At this tenuous time for many of us, it is important to remember why completing the census is important, if not critical, for several relevant reasons but — besides House representation on Capitol Hill — largely because it determines how much annually of more than $670 billion that our communities receive for hospitals, which are clearly facing emergencies and equipment shortages at this time, funding for fire departments and first responders, schools, public infrastructure projects, the planning of new homes and businesses, and more.

A third of the country has already responded to the census, and “We’re committed to counting the other two-thirds in the months to come,” Josh Green, an East Bay-based media specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau, said in a press release.

Census Day is an opportunity to remind the public that they should respond now to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail for those who received a paper questionnaire, he noted.

By responding online, it helps the Bureau conserve natural resources, process data more efficiently, and save taxpayer dollars. Otherwise, a census-taker, or enumerator, may visit households that have not completed the questionnaire.

Green said the Bureau considers April 1 as its “snapshot” day, meaning the information on the census form should reflect who is living in their homes on April 1. The last day to answer the census remains Aug. 14. By now everyone has received multiple invitations, say, a postcard, in their mailboxes with information on how to respond.

The Census Bureau is required by law to protect the information of those who respond and is not permitted to publicly release a respondent’s information in a way that could identify anyone in any household.

Based on continuing assessments of guidance from federal, state and local health authorities, the U.S. Census Bureau has suspended field operations for two additional weeks, to April 15. The Bureau is taking this step to help protect the health and safety of the American public, Bureau employees, and everyone who will go through the hiring process for temporary census-taker positions, Green pointed out.

The Bureau continues to evaluate all 2020 Census field operations, and will issue  further updates as soon as possible.

The 2020 Census is open for self-response online at 2020Census.gov, over the phone by calling toll-free (844) 330-2020, and by paper through the mail.

As of Monday, the current national self-response rate was 36.2 percent, with California slightly behind at 35.7 percent. Solano County, at 39.9 percent, was above the national and state averages.

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