SNOW HILL – Local officials continue to encourage residents — and homeowners — to complete the Census.
Because of COVID-19, the Census deadline has been extended to Oct. 31, giving citizens more time to ensure they’re counted. Officials say it’s critical that Worcester County’s count is accurate since the 2020 Census figures will be used for the next decade.
“Those numbers are what we live with for the next 10 years,” said Kelly Henry, coordinator of Worcester County’s Complete Count Committee. “That’s what so many things are based on.”
Henry’s committee has spent months working on ways to promote the Census and ensure residents completed it. With the extension because of COVID-19, citizens now have more time to do so.
Currently, Worcester County has the lowest response rate in the state of Maryland. The statewide response rate is 65.7% while Worcester is at 30.9%. Wicomico is at 62.1% and Somerset is at 51.5%.
Henry pointed out that the rates shown on the Census website were the self-reporting rates and that those figures would increase once enumerators started visiting homes in August.
Henry said the main reason Worcester County’s response rate was so low was because of its high number of vacation homes.
“Based on housing unit counts from Maryland Department of Planning, 63% of the total housing units is secondary/vacant homes, 10% is rental, while only 27% is owner occupied,” Henry said. “While Garrett County has a similar issue with vacation homes around Deep Creek, their percentage is not as high as Worcester County’s.”
Enumerators will visit the vacation homes that have not returned their Census data. Henry says if property owners don’t want to get a knock on their door they should not ignore their Census survey but rather visit the link provided and confirm that no one lived at the property.
Henry stressed that an accurate Census count would help Worcester County in getting grants.
“Because of COVID the need for federal funding is going to be all that much more important,” she said. “Things are going to be so much tighter.”
Beyond the financial impact, the Census ties in to a variety of other areas. Henry said that if the health department was being sent vaccines for Worcester County, for example, the number of vaccines sent would be based on the latest Census figures. Citing the rumor a few years ago that a Cracker Barrell was coming to Worcester County, she said developers made decisions based on market data that included Census figures.
The Census can be completed online, by phone or bay mail. For more information visit 2020census.gov.