Officials Encourage Census Participation

SNOW HILL –  Officials continue to urge citizens to complete this year’s Census.

While coronavirus concerns dominate the news, officials are reminding citizens that the 2020 Census is still underway.

“Hopefully by people being home and not being out and about they’ll have a chance to go ahead and fill out the Census,” said Kelly Henry, coordinator of Worcester County’s Complete Count Committee.

The Worcester County Commissioners proclaimed April as Census 2020 Awareness Month at a meeting last week. Residents are encouraged to visit the website to learn more.

Henry said the committee had held several lengthy meetings in recent months to figure out ways to ensure local residents completed the Census. She said the county had received a $20,000 grant that enabled the committee to purchase marketing materials and public service announcements.

Mary Bohlen, Berlin’s deputy town administrator and another member of Worcester’s Complete County Committee, has been sharing information with residents and elected officials for months. She said that because only 59% of Worcester County residents had completed the 2010 Census, the committee was working hard to increase participation.

“For every Marylander not counted the state loses $18,250 over 10 years,” she said.

Bohlen pointed out that the ongoing health crisis showed how important Census data was, as officials weren’t just looking at active cases of coronavirus but also potential cases.

“They’re using Census numbers to determine what might happen in a given area,” she said.

She pointed out that in spite of rumors, Census responses were not tied to potential stimulus packages, as responses were kept confidential.

“Your answers cannot be used to impact your eligibility for any government benefits, including any potential stimulus package,” reads the Census website. ‘The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to keep your information confidential, and the answers you provide are used only to produce statistics.”

Those statistics do impact federal funding on a broad level however.

“Completing the 2020 Census helps determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into communities every year for the next decade,” the website reads. “The results of the count also determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives and is used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.”

Bohlen said the Census could be completed online in about 10 minutes. It can also be completed by phone or by mail.  The Census deadline has been extended to Aug. 14 in response to the coronavirus.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.