WASHINGTON — With all the coronavirus pandemic news, it may be hard to remember that it’s still census time.
While the virus has impacted just about everything right now, data collection for the census is still underway. And if you don’t fill it out, it could cause an even greater impact on your community.
If you’ve gotten your census application in the mail, on the outside of the envelope, it says, "Your response is required by law." It's been that way since 1790.
The data and accounting by the census have a huge impact on local government. The numbers can help your communities work out public improvement strategies. This includes everything from billions of dollars in federal funding and transportation projects, which are constantly underway across the DMV region.
Places like Prince George’s County, Md. are hoping for a fair count this year. They’ve filed a lawsuit against the Census Bureau claiming they were grossly undercounted in the 2010 census.
"We have lost over $363 million in 10 years,” Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, said in January.
Census information also helps health providers predict the spread of disease through communities with children or elderly people.
U.S. Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham spoke to WUSA9 about how the spread of the coronavirus is impacting their work. He said the mailer is not your only option.
"Now that people can respond from the convenience of their home by getting on the internet, or simply by making a phone call, or by mailing in the paper questionnaire, there's no reason that we actually would need people to come around in a few months to knock on the doors, from the people we haven't heard from," Dillingham said.
"That is our current plan, we will do that, consistent with the latest health advice. By self-responding, you avoid any of those problems, and it's very efficient, and saves taxpayer dollars," he added.
Dillingham said they hope this plan helps keep their teams safe.
If you have the census in the mail, you can fill it out and mail it back in, or if you're at home like millions of others during the pandemic, you can fill it out online.