The kickoff on March 12 of the all-important 2020 U.S.Census may have been lost in the swirl of concerning news regarding the spread of the coronavirus known as COVID-19. But now that so many of us are homebound, practicing social distancing measures and working from home, this might be the perfect time to go online and do our civic duty.

We’ve all received our letter explaining the process and this past week we began to receive in the mail our census IDs. This isn’t just our civic duty; a response is required by law. Responding — completing our census enrollment — is actually something going on in our lives over which we each have control.

The online option to complete the 2020 census was already an important change since the 2010 Census was conducted. While completing the census online is the primary 2020 census method, the U.S. government had already readied a cadre of field workers, to encourage local participation and organize gatherings and in-person events to urge everyone in Chaffee County to complete it.

That swung into action just as the first public health orders were being issued across the country. The spread of  COVID-19 has brought significant changes to the process. Word came this week that the government has made the decision to pull field workers back from the field, to limit their risk of infection. That means that the primary method becomes the online process, with phone and mail as options.

To  better understand the importance of the Census, Chaffee County U.S. Census Coordinator April Obholz Bergeler has assembled a group of videos, all featuring Chaffee-area residents and business leaders talking about the importance of the census to local county operations. They include community leaders such as Chaffee Commissioner Keith Baker, Dr. Tiffany Rhodes, an ordinary citizen talking about the importance of the count and the funding directed to local governments and support programs based upon the census count.

It’s Census time! It has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker.The 2020 Census can help improve Chaffee County programs.Be a part of history and help shape your future!To complete the online questionnaire, visit my2020census.govU.S. Census Bureau

Posted by Chaffee County Public Health on Monday, March 16, 2020

Image: Dr. Tiffany Rhodes promoting the Census and what it means for our healthcare and public safety programs.

“It has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail – all without having to meet a census taker,” said the 2020 Census Bureau Director for Colorado Laurie Cipriano, addressing questions about how COVID-19 will affect the 2020 Census. “Self-responding online, by phone, or by mail will minimize the need for the U.S. Census Bureau to send census takers out into the community to knock on doors.”

To help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), 2020 Census field operations were suspended for two weeks – until April 1, 2020. Cipriano says the Census Bureau is taking this step to help protect the health and safety of the public, Census Bureau employees, and everyone going through the hiring process for temporary census taker positions. During the pause in field operations, the Census Bureau will continue to evaluate all 2020 Census operations and making additional adjustments if needed.

Beginning in late May, if  households haven’t responded to the 2020 Census, then the census operations will have to begin to send field workers to homes to be sure they are enrolled. With the evolving COVID-19 situation … “We are focused on protecting the health and safety of our staff and the public and fulfilling our constitutional duty to deliver the 2020 Census counts on schedule,” says Cipriano.

To view all videos on the Chaffee County Census YouTube channel, go to:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdbKMIGN-cJeXJmA45bWZZg

The local Census effort even has its own Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/ccph81201/photos/a.383779485140663/1381557938696141/?type=3&theater

Locally, Obholz Bergeler can be reached at  census@chaffeecounty.org