Leading up to the 2020 Census, which officially begins April 1, the U.S. Census Bureau is calling on religious leaders to encourage their congregations to participate in the count that occurs every 10 years. CNS photo/courtesy United States Census Bureau
Leading up to the 2020 Census, which officially begins April 1, the U.S. Census Bureau is calling on religious leaders to encourage their congregations to participate in the count that occurs every 10 years. CNS photo/courtesy United States Census Bureau
As the U.S. Census Bureau monitors the spread of COVID-19 and evaluates how the virus will affect the 2020 Census, local advocates continue to stress the importance of all residents being counted.  

In a March 12 statement, Marlene Laó-Collins, executive director of Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton, stressed that the coronavirus crisis underscores the importance of 2020 Census participation.

“The government uses census data to fund hospitals, health clinics, and other public health initiatives and facilities. When vulnerable people are under-counted, we risk not having all the resources we need to keep them healthy and thriving in ordinary times,” she said.

“The public’s full participation in the census will help ensure our communities’ health care and social service programs and facilities receive adequate funding for the next 10 years, so that everyone gets the care they need when they need it,” Laó-Collins said.

As of March 12, those wanting to complete the census online can do so at https://2020census.gov/en.html. Though Census Day is officially observed April 1, households have already begun receiving census information on how to respond.

 “It has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail – all without having to meet a census taker,” the U.S. Census Bureau stressed.

However, aware that “in the 2010 Census, 24 percent of households failed to respond to the census,” Laó-Collins stressed that the CCDOT has partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau to improve reporting by people who historically have been undercounted. Three public access sites will be open to the public for those who do not have computers or Internet access, or simply need assistance.

In light of coronavirus fears, Laó-Collins explained, “We are taking extra precautions in cleaning these locations, especially all surfaces. To the best of our ability, we are practicing social distancing,” noting that visitors will not be sitting or standing in close proximity to each other.

She encouraged those who are not feeling well to postpone coming to the sites and others to be prudent in their traveling. Citing the shortage of hand sanitizers, she encouraged those who visit the sites to carry their own. “If we are able to provide sanitizer, we will,” she stressed.

“We are monitoring the situation on a daily basis,” she said. Noting that while “social service agencies require face-to-face, if we have to shut down these locations, that’s what we will do.”

Laó-Collins said she hoped to “underscore the importance of everyone being counted and not letting the current situation keep us from doing that.”