Officials still urging census participation as coronavirus pandemic continues

By  | 

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) -- With the coronavirus pandemic continuing, officials want to remind Alabama residents how important it is to participate in the 2020 Census.

Kenneth Boswell, director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, said participation in the census ensures Alabama receives the billions of dollars in federal funding it needs for healthcare, schools, infrastructure and more. The census also determines how many representatives the state will have in congress.

“Most of all would be federal representation at this particular point in time," Boswell said. "A prime example of that would be the stimulus program that was just passed early this morning for the coronavirus, and knowing that we had good representation, a number of representatives representing us to make sure that our voice was heard in that negotiation process.”

The stimulus program Boswell is referring to is a $2 trillion emergency bill to rush aid to businesses, workers and a health care system slammed by the coronavirus pandemic. Concerns have arisen over whether assistance will only go to people who fill out the census, but Boswell said that’s not true. He said the census is not mandatory.

“But we would ask that you take it into strong, serious consideration, simply because if we don’t make sure that our people are counted, then it’s going to have an adverse effect on our state from the standpoint of representation, dollars coming into our state, as well as economic development,” Boswell said.

Though field operations have been suspended, residents can still participate in the census count online.

“We’re encouraging everyone at this particular point to self-participate,” Boswell said. “Although census workers have been delayed by two weeks, even when they are able to get out into the field, it avoids anyone from having to come and knock on your door if you self-participate, so we are asking you to go ahead if you’re home self-quarantining or you’re home because you’ve been laid off work, we ask that you go ahead and make those effort to please self-participate.”

Boswell said the census asks basic demographic questions and takes less than five minutes to complete.

If you develop symptoms for the coronavirus and need to be tested, call 1-888-264-2256.

Copyright 2020 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

Read the original version of this article at wsfa.com.