ROCHELLE – With the current COVID-19 situation being so hectic, filling out a United States Census form may not be the first thing on many people’s minds, but it is something that needs to be done.
Amid the stay-at-home order, emptying of grocery store shelves and restaurants closing their dining rooms, the Unites States is taking its census count. While filling out a census form may not seem important during these tough times, it makes a large impact. Every person not counted is a loss of $1,800 in federal and state funding, annually, for the next 10 years.
As of April 7, 46.7 percent of the national population has filled out its census and the state of Illinois is at 50.8 percent. Locally, Ogle County is ahead of both the national and state percentage at 57 percent. Ogle County is broken up into three “tracks” including the northwest side, east side and southwest side.
The northwest track has had 62.5 percent respond and the other two tracks are noticeably behind at 47.7 percent and 44.7 percent. The city attributes this to those tracks having a large concentration of hard-to-count areas and is hopeful those percentages will increase when census takers begin going door-to-door. While city officials are happy with how the responses are going, they know there is still much more to be done.
“All things considered I am pretty happy with how things are going,” said Sue Messer, assistant to the city manager/city clerk. “But when you compare it to where the 2010 numbers ended up, we have a long way to go.”
Due to the COVID-19 situation, the entire 2020 United States Census schedule has been delayed two weeks. On April 8, paper questionnaires began mailing out to those who have not responded and Census takers are scheduled to go door-to-door between May 28 and Aug. 14.
There is currently no talk of any future postponements due to COVID-19, but this is a situation that changes every day. The people in charge of the census are constantly monitoring the situation and city officials know the delay could be extended any moment.
“The census group is watching the virus, the stay at home orders and all of those things,” said Messer. “At this point, there has been no talk of any future postponement, but I am sure they are weighing how to move forward.”
For anybody who needs help filling out a census online, the city is offering help over the phone by calling city hall at 815-562-6161.