FORT MYERS, Fla — The coronavirus is on a lot of people’s minds today. But with everything going on in the world, we have to make sure we don’t forget about the 2020 Census. It keeps count of everyone living in the United States, and it’s essential.
The census occurs every ten years, and if we don’t have a proper count this time, the next opportunity won’t be until 2030.
“It’s very important that we do it because it funds things. What’s really important right now is the coronavirus,” Michelle Malsbury said. “It will fund the healthcare the testing for that kind of stuff.”
Michelle Malsbury is a Partnership Specialist for Collier, Lee, and Charlotte counties for the U.S Census Bureau. She says the results of the census also create funding for disaster relief, education, federal grants, infrastructure, and many other things. It also determines each state’s representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
April 1st was Census Day. Many people think this is the deadline but it’s not. You can respond before or after this date. Just tell the Census Bureau where you live as of April 1st, 2020.
As of Monday, April 6th 45.7% of people across the USA have responded to the questionnaires. In the state of Florida, 44.2% have responded.
With the coronavirus continuing to spread, a question we wanted to know was, could it mess up collecting more data?
“If you’re very sick, it might have some impact,” Malsbury said. “And yes, we have a lot of people that are stick in the hospital and stuff like that.”
For the first time, the U.S Census Bureau has extended its timeline because of Covid-19. Instead of ending data collection at the end of July, the deadline to get your census information will now be August 14th.
Not filling out the census could impact the communities. We asked Malsbury what happens if three people decide they don’t want to fill it out.
“You three don’t do it, and then three other people don’t do it, and it keeps multiplying just like the coronavirus,” Malsbury said. “Then before we know it, we don’t have a clear count of the people in your community. And when something happens, then we don’t have the funding to do it.”
Like if only five people complete the census and 25 people are applying for unemployment, only five will get it because they base it on the citizen rate.
Malsbury says a common myth is that the U.S Census Bureau shares data with other organizations. She says that’s not true.
“The Census Bureau exists solely as a statistical compilation agency,” Malsbury said. “The data is used in a variety of ways for funding, but also demographics.”
She says those demographics help a business decide if they want to come into the community. She says nobody should be afraid to fill out the census. It’s for people to help people.