With in-person collections suspended due to coronavirus concerns, local advocates for the 2020 Census are asking people to be proactive and fill out the census online.
Trent Misak, chair of Garfield County Complete Count Committee, a local organization of community members advocating for as complete a census as possible, said all field operations to collect census information have been halted until at least April 1.
But, he said, "we want people to know, because this is the first year you can respond online, we want people to go online and respond as soon as they can."
Area residents can respond to the census online at https://2020census.gov. Click on the green "Respond" tab. The site will ask for a 12-digit Census ID, which was provided in mailings to each household. If you didn't receive or no longer have the 12-digit code, you can select "If you do not have a Census ID, click here" under the code entry and login tab.
Misak said it only takes about 5-15 minutes to respond, and every response makes a big difference for local services.
"The biggest thing is it impacts federal funding for local services," Misak said — services like Medicaid funding, SNAP food benefits, police and fire services and federal programs for public schools.
Each resident of Enid who is counted in the census brings in about $1,675 a year of federal funding for the next 10-year period, Misak said, meaning each person who isn't counted is a loss of almost $17,000 in funding over the next decade.
Altogether, Misak said Enid should be eligible for about $83.75 million in federal funding each year — if everyone is counted in the census.
Complete census data also is important in redistricting for the state Legislature and representation in Congress, and is used in helping define the local workforce for recruiting new businesses, Misak said.
While many parents are homeschooling their kids due to school closures, Misak said the census is a good learning opportunity.
"If you're a parent trying to teach your kids about social studies, this is a really important lesson to teach them, about the importance of the census," he said.
When households are filling out the census, Misak said it's important to count everyone who lives there.
All information collected in the census is kept confidential, he said. There are no immigration questions on the 2020 Census, and Misak said census information is not sent to federal immigration or law enforcement agencies.
For more information, visit https://2020census.gov.