U.S. Census moves outreach online ahead of August deadline

April 1 marked Census Day across the nation, the day the Census Bureau wants to know how many people live with you and where.

Jacqueline Martinez Garcel with the Latino Community Foundation hosted a kickoff event on Facebook live to get the word out.

“It actually means that from this point forward all the data that gets counted from this point forward gets used for the next 10 years,” Martinez Garcel said. “We are among the people who are undercounted and we can't afford to do that right now.”

Outreach has been happening for months in multiple languages, according to Hong Mei Pang with Chinese for Affirmative Action. She said the coronavirus has thrown a wrench in their plans, but they were able to move outreach activities online.

“We’ve engaged in a communications strategy to really help motivate participation, but also have worked on policy measures to remove the barriers related to language access,” Pang said. “We have launched an official subscription account on a very popular site called “We Chat" to facilitate information sharing, dispel myths, and encourage people to participate in the census.”

Jeffrey Enos, Deputy Regional Director with the U.S. Census Bureau based in Los Angeles, said approximately 36% of people have responded so far, nationwide. The data collected will help California determine representation in Congress and provide funding for things like hospitals and emergency planning.

“Anyone that's born today that is zero days old, up to someone that's 130 years old, we want to make sure everyone is included,” he said.

The deadline for filling out the census form is August 14, 2020. You can respond online, by phone, or mailing back a paper questionnaire. Enos added that this is about counting every person, not every citizen.

“We don't ask an immigration question,” Enos said. “We don't ask citizenship status. We're only interested in a population count.”

Martinez Garcel is encouraging people to respond as soon as possible.

“All of us are sheltered in place so just take the moment to fill out the census,” she said.