MEIGS COUNTY — Every 10 years, the United States Census takes place to count residents of the country.
Beginning in mid-March, individuals were invited to complete the 2020 Census online, by mail or by phone. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, in-person and door-to-door census taking have been delayed.
“The Census is ongoing, and is something we should not forget about,” said Meigs County Complete Count Committee Chairman Chris Shank. Shank noted that in the past some people wait for a person to knock on their door in order to respond to the Census, rather than completing the process on their own. This year, he said, it is not known when those door-to-door meetings could take place so it is more important than in the past to complete the census on your own.
“The Census is not canceled due to coronavirus,” added Shank.
Through April 5, the most recent data available, the Meigs County self-response rate is at 41 percent, the sixth lowest in the state. In 2010, the county’s final self-response rate was 65.7 percent. Self-response can be completed online, by phone or by mail.
Many households have received mailers with information about completing the Census, including an invitation code. Those who receive mail at a P.O. Box have likely not received the mailings which are sent to physical residences, not post office boxes.
If you have not received that code, you can still complete the Census.
For online response visit 2020census.gov.
For response by phone call 844-330-2020 from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week.
Currently in Meigs County, Chester Township has the highest self-response rate at 55 percent, with Sutton Township the lowest at 23.1 percent.
Of the villages, Middleport has the highest response rate at 39.9 percent.
Overall, Ohio has a 49.1 percent response rate as of April 5.
“This effects the next 10 years. If our response is low it could really impact our county in a bad way,” said Shank.
Census data is utilized for funding of local government, schools, parks, grants and much more, as well as setting representation in Congress and helping to set district lines.
“Billions of dollars worth of grants and funding are figured based on Census data,” said Commissioner Randy Smith.
“Most people do not realize that grants such as CDBG and other programs are based on population. If our true population is not counted then it could cut short the funding received for these grants, as well as schools and other programs,” said Smith.
Speaking from his own experience completing the Census questionnaire this year, Smith said for his family of five in his household he was able to complete the questionnaire online via his phone in about five minutes.
“I encourage everyone to take the easy route and take the online option. This keeps people from having to come knock on your door to complete the questions,” said Smith. He added that given the COVID-19 pandemic it is unknown when those door-to-door questionnaires could happen.
For more on the 2020 Census visit 2020census.gov.
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Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.