LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - April 1 is Census Day, the day used to determine where people live across America for the once-in-a-decade count.
It comes as the United States is crippled by the coronavirus and as millions of Americans are stuck indoors. While quarantined, officials across the country, including Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and President Donald Trump, are encouraging people to complete the questionnaire.
Louisville Metro officials have been working to get into what they call “hard to count” areas, in order to get a proper count of the people in those communities.
Census Coordinator Catalina Cordova told WAVE 3 News her department has worked with organizations like United Way and Jefferson County Public Schools in order to get a proper count.
“We’ve just been strategizing how to best reach them," Cordova told WAVE 3 News. “It’s finding community partners that work close with that community to try to get the word out, and they keep communicating with every person they attend to and they ask them, ‘Have you filled out the census, do you need any help doing it?'”
There’s a reason Cordova and others are pushing for people to complete the census. The count determines how many representatives each state gets in Congress. It also determines how trillions of dollars in federal funding gets spent on things like roads or schools. Additionally, it’s mandated by the U.S. Constitution, and people can be fined for not completing it.
“If you care about your community, and care about your future, I would say just go ahead and complete the 2020 Census," Cordova said.
The coronavirus’s spread has forced the U.S. Census Bureau to suspend field operations for a month, from mid-March to mid-April, when the hiring process would be ramping up for up to 500,000 temporary census takers.
The bureau also delayed the start of counts for the homeless and people living in group quarters like college dorms and nursing homes, and it has pushed back the deadline for wrapping up the head count from the end of July to mid-August.
The Census Bureau is required by federal statute to send the president the counts that will be used to carve up congressional districts, a process known as apportionment, and draw state legislative districts by Dec. 31. Some groups are suggesting that the deadline be pushed back, though it’s currently mandated by federal law.
Experts say connecting with trusted community leaders in person is the best way to reach people in hard-to-count groups that may be wary of the federal government.
As of Monday, more than 36 percent of households had already answered the questions, and the Census Bureau reported 40,300 temporary workers were on the payroll as of mid-March.
If you haven’t completed the census, click here or call (844) 330-2020.