TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - The Census was one of the many entities affected by COVID-19, but operations have began to pick back up again in both Indiana and Illinois.
Due to COVID-19, the Census count and the way it was structured went through a lot of changes. News 10 visited Clark County, Illinois to see how Wabash Valley communities in the Land of Lincoln have adapted and what the update is.
Clark County Census chair Warren LeFever says as the COVID-19 pandemic became unavoidable, the Census Bureau froze operations for 120 days. That time has now passed, and census operations in Illinois are picking back up.
LeFever says workers are gradually going door to door to continue counting. He says they are hanging tags, aren’t going inside homes, and wearing masks.
Marshall’s public library and the Clark County health department are open for people to come and get help with submitting census forms.
He says one change through all of this is the Census Bureau is able to find workers much easier now since so many are out of work. Other than that, he believes the effects felt in Clark County will be minimal.
“The Census has actually gone pretty well here as far as self-response is concerned,” LeFever said, “Now they have to go out for the people who just won’t do it until you go to the door. There’s always those people who will just not do it. So you have to go out and find them and count them.”
News 10 investigated how Indiana is doing also, and, more specifically, the surrounding Wabash Valley communities. Executive Director of the West Central Indiana Economic Development District Ryan Keller says while COVID-19 has had an impact, they’re getting right back on track with the Census.
Keller says Census operations did stop in March due to COVID-19 and didn’t pick back up until late May. They have since resumed, and Keller says they are going strong.
Over the past couple of weeks, workers have been going door to door to continue counting.
That deadline has been extended through October. The deadline to fill out your Census form online was also extended to October 31st.
Keller says self-response numbers have been pretty good given the circumstances. The highest in our area is Clay County at 63%, while Parke County is the lowest at a 52% self-response rate. Vigo County is right in the middle with just over 60%.
“If COVID-19 hadn’t happened, those rates right there are a little low,” Keller said, “However, due to COVID-19, all operations ceasing, and everybody’s focus was shifted to the pandemic—I would say we are still in a really good spot for completion.”
Keller says the number one goal is just to get people counted. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, and it will result in a lot of funding for this area.
Another point he made is with unemployment up, the Census creates a job opportunity for you at home. Keller says there’s still time to apply. All you have to do is visit 2020census.gov.