Census Effort Enters Final Stretch With Sept. 30 Deadline

BERLIN – As the deadline to complete the 2020 Census nears, officials say it is not too late to participate.

In March, households across the country received invitations to complete the 2020 Census online, by phone or by mail. As the Sept. 30 deadline approaches, state and county leaders are encouraging residents to respond.

“As we enter the final month to respond to the 2020 Census, we remain committed to reaching hard-to-count areas in Maryland, which benefit most from federal funding derived from the Census data,” Gov. Larry Hogan said last week. “Every single response is critical to secure funding for healthcare, schools, hospitals, roads, and other essential services.”

As of Tuesday, Worcester County’s self-response rate has reached 32.6%, inching closer to its 2010 self-response rate of 33.2%. Kelly Henry, coordinator of Worcester County’s Complete Count Committee, said two Ocean Pines Census tracts and one Berlin Census tract have exceeded 2010 self-response rates, while areas of northern Worcester County – including Whaleyville, Showell, Bishopville, Ocean City, South Point and the Saint Martins Neck area – are close to meeting 2010 numbers.

But she noted that areas with lower self-response rates include Snow Hill, Pocomoke City, Newark, West Ocean City and areas west of Ocean Pines.

“People in these areas need to take 10 minutes to complete the 2020 Census survey online or by phone, or wait until an enumerator knocks on their door,” she said.

Henry explained Census surveys have been mailed to addresses that have not yet responded. She added that U.S. Census workers are also visiting those houses that have not completed the survey.

“If you want to avoid coming in contact with an enumerator, even though they are taking all of the necessary precautions relative to COVID, you can complete the survey online or by phone,” she said.

Henry explained it is difficult to compare Worcester’s self-response rates to other Maryland counties, as more than 60% of housing units are secondary homes and only 27% of the total homes are owner occupied. In Ocean City, for example, she noted that 89% of units are secondary homes, and in South Point 51% of units are secondary homes.

“Being a vacation destination/resort community, 63% of the total number of housing units in Worcester County are vacation/secondary homes,” she said. “Garrett County is the closest, but their vacation/secondary homes total are less than 40%.”

Henry said completing the 2020 Census survey is easy, safe and important, and she encouraged everyone to participate.

Henry noted statistics gathered from the Census are used to determine legislative boundaries and the distribution of $675 billion in federal funding for the next decade.

“These monies are used to fund transportation projects, education, community services, health care, etc.,” she said. “Since revenues are going to be lower than normal due to COVID, it is important that everyone is counted so Worcester County and its four municipalities receive proper funding.”

Households can respond to the 2020 Census by visiting 2020census.gov or filling out the paper survey and mailing it before Sept. 30. Henry stressed that it takes 10 minutes to complete.

“Everyone is some way or another, young or old, English speaking or Spanish speaking, white or black, rich or poor, owner, renter or homeless is impacted by the statistical data collected through the census,” she said. “Everyone counts!”