Every ten years, the U.S. government attempts to count every American in the country. The data helps determine the number of things, like how many seats will be in the U.S. House of Representatives for each state and how federal dollars are allocating across the country. For these reasons, officials say it’s essential each American responds to the survey. COVID-19 has affected all areas of life, but the US Census Bureau has adjusted operations to help ensure the accurate count of everyone who lives in the U.S. Through US Census government knows about the current population.
April 1 is Census Day to support residents to respond to the Census via phone, mail, or online. The current national response rate is 34.7%. Missouri & St. Joseph is right, along with an average of 38%. The US Census Bureau has twice this month suspended field operations in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Meanwhile, local efforts to boost participation are also being disrupted by the pandemic.
US Census Bureau
US Census Bureau officials held a briefing conference call, describing what changes. They are making to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. By now, most everyone should have received a letter in the mail asking to respond to the Census. This year will be the first time you can meet online; resource officials will help the process despite the threat of the virus.
Self-replying online, by mail, or by phone will likely not be affected by the virus. But the time to do it will extend. Follow-ups afterward are all delayed by at least two weeks. Due to COVID-19, the US Census Bureau has delayed its early door-knocking from the beginning of April. To May to combat the spread of the virus.
Impact of Pendemic
US Census another aspect the pandemic could impact is the accuracy of counting students in college towns. Colleges have transitioned to online classes, and the majority of students have gone back to their hometowns. “College students are supposed to be counted in the city they were living in when they were in college. So, if you go back to where you’re from, and you go to Missouri Western, you’re supposed to be counted in St. Joe,” Ruiz said.
How it’s beneficial in the current situation
The count also benefits hospitals facing emergencies and shortages. As census data informs the distribution of critical funding for hospitals and emergency services.
“The 2020 US Census Bureau results will help to determine how hundreds of billions of dollars. Flow into society every year for the next ten years in federal funding.” A release on the Census said. “That funding shapes different aspects of every community, no matter the location, no matter the size.” A complete count can benefit the community in the situation of a pandemic. “COVID-19 reminds us of the importance of being counter in the U.S.,” Salazar’s said. “Knowing how many of us live in our cities. Allows us to more effectively and efficiently respond to crises like this one.”
Challenges in this way
Crystal Viagran is the finance director & operations at the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at the University of Texas at Austin. She says a Census could lead to financial hurt. Last December, the Hogg Foundation awarded $2.1 million in grants to various entities throughout the state, supporting the 2020 Census count efforts. Because of COVID-19, those entities have shifted to virtual outreach, including texting and social media.
The Demographic Center of Texas notes that just one undercounts in Texas “could translate to a loss of $300 million” in federal funding. This year, the traditional telecommunications & in-person methods for collecting a population tally will be supplemented by an online component for the first time. Although the questionnaire of the digital Census can facilitate the outreach process as the nation contends with COVID-19 safely, its novelty leaves the method vulnerable to user error and access restrictions. However, it noted that the majority of the county has home availability to the internet. So, Nevertheless, those who have less access to the internet will fall into the hard-to-reach population’s category.
Reaching hard-to-count community members, including the African American, Hispanic, LGBTQ+, and Asian American populations, was already a challenge for census workers. Robinson said those community members are counting by the outreach of door-to-door, which can lead to imperfect information due to immigration status, households that are more than what is permitting under mistrust of the government or lease agreements. Now, he said, fear of sickness “is going to put an added burden with any interaction they have with a stranger.”
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Native Americans Face other Challenges, In Avoiding Another Undercount
There’s another group less likely to take part in the present in our region and across the country. In the last Census, Native Americans living on reservations were undercounted by nearly 5.
Michael Yellowplume is heading up efforts of census outreach for the Northern Arapaho Tribe on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. He explained to tribal members how a to undercount could hurt them, at an educational event in early March.
The US Census is conducting primarily online For the first time in this history, & Yellowplume’s worried that could compound the undercount in Indian Country. “I believe that’s the biggest obstacle that we run into is people don’t have access to the internet,” he says.
On the Wind River Reservation, only a 3rd of households have internet access. There was a plan to set up internet hotspots around the reservation, Yellowplume says, But that’s been put on hold due to COVID-19 pandemic. There would be all sorts of consequences from a low count. Take housing. Census numbers inform federal funding for housing, a persistent problem on the reservation. Charles Washakie, who directs the housing program for the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, says it’s not unusual for 2 or 3 families to occupy a single home. Yet, those families often won’t disclose that on census forms for fear of losing their housing.
“If we’re overcrowded in most of our units, that [information] helps us get funding,” Washakie says. “People don’t understand that.” He says his office is chronically underfunded. They haven’t built a new unit in more than 20 years. But he hopes an accurate count could change that.
COVID-19 health crisis continues to develop here in Texas; there is a public health risk for US Census takers attempting to finalize a complete count through door-to-door interactions. So, now more than ever, it’s essential for those who can complete the Census online, by mail, by phone to ensure a complete count for our state and to mitigate additional public health risks.
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