Census is back on

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If you already sent in your online or mailed response to the 2020 U.S. Census, great. You're counted, and are part of bringing millions of dollars of funding to our community. For those who have not, the U.S. Census Bureau is adapting and delaying its operation to protect the health and safety of its staff and the public while still making sure the same population is counted.

You are required by law to respond to the decennial (every 10 years) census.

Starting with the soft launch July 16, census takers will begin interviewing households that have yet to respond to the 2020 Census in regions managed by area census offices in Maine, West Virginia, Missouri, Oklahoma and Idaho. Each week, the bureau will begin counting operations nationwide. Most census offices will begin follow-up work on August 11, and conclude their work no later than Oct. 31. 500,000 workers are needed. More than 900,000 job offers were extended and accepted. 700,000 of 900,000 have been fingerprinted and 500,000 have completed background checks and are ready to begin.

Training for Aug. 11 launch begins July 31 so there are three weeks to finish the staff onboarding and training for applicants in the pipeline.

Census takers will follow local public health guidelines when they visit.

Census takers will wear masks and follow local public health guidelines when they visit your home. All census takers complete a virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing.

Over 10,000 enumerators are now in training, learning health and safety protocols before beginning work in neighborhoods.

Census takers are hired locally and the goal is to help everyone in every household be counted in the 2020 Census. If the census taker who visits your home does not speak your language, you may request a return visit from a census taker who does speak the language.

If no one is home when the census taker visits, the census taker will leave a notice of their visit with information about how to respond online, by phone, or by mail. Responding online or by phone today means a census taker saves a trip to your home to collect your response.

What if I don't want to give some random individual my personal information?

Census workers have been sworn in under Title XIII of the U.S. Constitution since the very beginning. Workers take an oath of confidentiality that if broken is punishable by hefty fines, federal prison, and more – a huge risk for a $17-25 per hour temporary worker.

Even our newsroom cannot follow along, we don't even have a way to ask permission in advance to take a posed photograph or record footage from families who might consent, because that is still a cross of the Title XIII line. The U.S. Census bureau has media at some earlier time.

Census takers are equipped with personal protective equipment to protect everyone in the census field, which is potentially – everyone.

The policy has been updated and requires all census employees to wear a face mask regardless of geography or locality.

The bureau has 40 million pieces of PPE for office staff and field workers. Of that number, 2.4 masks are acquired, 21.4 million disinfectant wipes, 3.6 hand sanitizer bottles, and 17 million gloves.

One program that has faced challenges is one in MQA – mobile questionnaire assistance in which census workers were sent where people gathered – community festivals, public gatherings, etc. These gatherings are no longer included in the program, but workers may be posted in places people go for essential services like pharmacies, grocery stores, libraries, courthouses, post offices and more. MQA will launch in areas where it is safe on July 13, allowing members of the public to respond on the spot.

July 13-early August the bureau will re-engage a major communication campaign to seek a higher response in the lowest response areas of the country.

Neighborhood car parades, flyers, billboards, and more are possible. It's that important to count absolutely everyone.

We hope everyone in Emmet County will submit a voluntary response and we have 100% of our residents counted.

So far, the self-response rate is higher than expected, and Iowa is in third place in the U.S for responses. This does not mean there is no room for improvement. Get your questionnaire in today.

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