We are living in strange times, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting all of us in more way as each day passes.

However, life does go on, and one important task we all need to take seriously is the 2020 Census.

Census forms should have arrived in the mail, so everyone should make sure they have theirs. Because of the COVID-19 situation, all field operations for the census have been halted, making it even more important that people take the initiative and complete and return their forms.

There are several ways you can respond.

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.

You also can respond over the phone, or fill out the paper copy and mail it back in the postage-paid envelope provided.

Trent Misak, chair of Garfield County Complete Count Committee, a local organization of community members advocating for as complete a census as possible, said it only takes about 5-15 minutes to respond.

That response, though, is vitally important to our state, Garfield County and the city of Enid.

“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, meaning each person who isn’t counted is a loss of almost $17,000 in funding over the next decade. Altogether, Enid should be eligible for about $83.75 million in federal funding each year — if everyone is counted in the census.

Census data also is used in redistricting for the state Legislature and representation in Congress.

So far, a little more than one-quarter of Enid residents receiving census information have responded. The response rate as of Tuesday in Enid is 26.2%, which is above the national rate of 23.6%, the state rate of 21.5% and the Garfield County rate of 25.2%.

In late May, unless more changes come about because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Census Bureau will send out people to visit households that have not responded in an effort to get as complete a count as possible.

Don’t wait. Go ahead and complete your forms now.

If you have any questions, go to https://2020census.gov.

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