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Census 2020: Complete count urged

By Staff | Aug 5, 2020

While the pandemic is dominating the thoughts of many this year, officials want to remind everyone 2020 is a Census year and participation is crucially important for communities around the country.

The U.S. Census Bureau has once again moved the timeline back this time for an additional three months, making the new deadline for self-reporting Oct. 31.

According to a weekly report dated July 23 from the U.S Census Bureau, Lee County’s self-response rate is currently 56.2 percent – ranking 35th in the state.

County officials remind residents to participate in the 2020 Census because it will determine funding for many crucial state and county programs over the next decade. The public can now respond via mail, phone or online. The form takes mere minutes to complete and can make a profound impact on your community.

“Vital federal funding, including the recent CARES Act, is based on local population,” said Lee County spokesperson Tim Engstrom. “Throughout the next 10 years, important quality-of-life necessities – emergency response, public safety, healthcare, schools, roads and public transit, housing, parks and many more county-wide programs – require an accurate count of the local population.”

Engstrom said an accurate count is also important for the county to ensure it has fair representation in federal and state legislatures, and that it shapes local district boundaries.

There has been a working group of county, city, sheriff’s office and school board representatives in place since 2018 to help with the local Census effort. Those activities resulted in the formation of a Complete Count Committee – a “CCC” – and the development of their web site, www.leegov.com/census, to provide information and tools necessary to obtain a complete census count.

“These efforts will continue as we remind everyone ‘You Count’ and you can have ‘Your Census, Your Way,'” Engstrom said.

Census numbers also impact infrastructure grants, the building of schools and disaster relief dollars and resources. It sets the pace of funding for the next decade. With the spread of COVID-19 at the forefront of the public’s minds, reporting to the bureau could help ensure each community has the supplies it needs in a time of turmoil.

Participating has never been easier, now with three different ways to report. In prior counts, mail-in was the only way to go. The public can now get real-time results logged in the system with people calling in and submitting online.

The School District of Lee County has even given parents permission to use their child’s laptop and hotspot – given to students for virtual learning purposes – to participate in the Census online.

To participate online and for more information, visit www.2020Census.gov.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj