SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — The pandemic has undoubtedly turned our attention to our public health system for information on COVID-19. But leaders with the U.S. Census Bureau are stressing that it is still crucial for people to fill out their 2020 forms.
As much as $675 billion in federal funding at the state, local and federal levels is distributed to programs such as Medicaid, education, transportation, and emergency response services that are based on Census data.
Licett Garbe, a partnership specialist for Eastern Washington with the United States Census Bureau, said Spokane County could forfeit billions of dollars for the next 10 years if forms are missed.
The deadline to turn in the 2020 Census has been extended from July 31 to September 30, according to Garbe.
The George Washington University completed studies on how this would affect the county, she said. For every person that is not counted for, two thousand dollars would be irreplaceable for another decade.
“This is a once-in-a-decade count. So the results that we receive here in 2020 is what we will have as far as data all the way until 2030. We don’t get a redo, so this is it,” Garbe said.
Garbe said there are more than 60 different government assistance programs that are affected by the Census. Many of these people who rely on these services have been greatly impacted by the disruptions created by COVID-19.
“It’s so critical for us to really be able to have this chance to affect not just this year, but the next 10 years and how our communities will shape and look not just for us but for our children,” Garbe said.
The number of responses for the current Census in Spokane County has surpassed that of 2010, according to Garbe. Overall, Washington made the top 3 states in the nation for responses and Spokane is in the top 10 cities across the state in self-response.
According to Garbe, Spokane County is at 72.9% for self-response. That means there are still 25 to 27% of people who still need to respond.
There is still time left to fill out the 2020 Census. Garbe urges for residents who haven’t completed the application to be on the lookout this week. The bureau will start sending out forms for the seventh time as early as this week until early September.
The bureau is also sending Census takers who comes to a person’s home and help them fill out the form.
Census workers are not allowed to enter homes due to COVID-19. They must wear a face mask and stay at a distance of six feet outside of the home, Garbe said.
If no one is home, the Census taker will leave a note reminding the ways you can respond on your own on your door.
Here are 3 ways to respond:
1: By calling 844-330-2020. From there, a live customer representative will be able to assist.
2: By mail
3: Going online to my2020census.gov
Census takers will carry an ID badge with a photo of themselves, a U.S. department of commerce watermark and an expiration date.
To spot any red flags from someone who claims to be a census taker, Licett said they will never ask for a SSN number, bank information, or political affiliation.
The 2020 Census form is also private information. Title 13 allows the census bureau to operate and remain completely confidential. This means that the bureau does not share any information with any federal agency including ICE, or the FBI.
For any questions about the legitimacy of the application, call 844-330-2020 for help.