The COVID-19 pandemic has upended almost every aspect of our daily lives. When you add the recent tornadoes and extended power outages to the mix, it is no wonder we may have let a few things slip off our radar. An important task that is being overshadowed by the current state of affairs is the 2020 Census. Every 10 years since 1790, we have counted everyone living in the United States as mandated by Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution.
The data from the 2020 Census will impact our community in many ways. For the next 10 years, the results will determine how trillions of federal dollars will be divided for schools, health care, infrastructure such as roads and high-speed internet, emergency response, and many other services. Now more than ever, we need to make sure Blount County receives its fair share of the available funding.
Census information also helps businesses, non-profits, grant-making entities, county government, and municipalities plan for services required by our residents. Will certain schools need more teachers and classrooms in a few years? What roads may need to be widened? Does Blount County qualify for grant money for various projects? Will we need more services targeted for senior citizens or children? Is the Blount County population large enough to support the addition of new restaurants, grocery stores, entertainment venues, and other businesses? Do we need more housing, more medical services, or more utility service capacity? These are just a few of the questions that will be answered by the 2020 Census.
The Census also determines how many seats Alabama will have in the U.S. House of Representatives and the results are used to define state and federal legislative districts. A complete Census count will ensure our opinions are fully represented in Washington, D.C.
The privacy and safety of citizens is of the utmost concern to the Census Bureau. Data tied to your name cannot be released for 72 years. During this period, the general public, law enforcement, court system, and government agencies are denied access to your identifiable information. And remember, the Census Bureau will never ask you for your full Social Security number, your bank account, credit card numbers, or any type of payment.
As of April 24, the Blount County Census response rate stood at 52.7 percent. That is a good start, but we have a long way to go! You can begin by making sure that your own household has been counted. After that, you can double-check with friends and relatives to make sure they have not forgotten.
To respond to the Census, go to my2020census.gov and click on “Start Questionnaire” to be stepped through the process. It is very easy and should take you less than 10 minutes. If the Census Bureau sent you something in the mail, it should include your 12-digit Census ID which will be requested on the web site. If you never received anything in the mail or have misplaced it, that is not a problem! As you are being guided through the steps, you will be given the option to either enter your 12-digit Census ID or to continue without it.
Although a few paper Census questionnaires were mailed out this year, the Census Bureau is expecting the vast majority of responses to be received online or by phone.
If you have any questions or would like to respond to the Census by phone, call 844-330-2020 for English or 844- 468-2020 for Spanish. Hearing impaired individuals with a Telephone Display Device may call 844-467-2020. You can also find additional information at my2020census.gov.
The future of our community depends on the results of the 2020 Census. Can we count on you?