Have you completed the 2020 Census yet? If not, what is the holdup?

An inaccurate Census count can be detrimental to our community. It’s a simple process, and you have until Sept. 30 to complete it.

By now you’ve seen mailings, multiple ads, stories and more about the 2020 Census. If you’ve not filled it out yet, then the time for procrastinating is over.

Before Sept. 30, go to 2020Census.gov, call 1-844-330-2020, or complete the mailing you were sent and return it. You can respond in English, Spanish, and 11 other languages online or by phone.

With COVID-19, the ability for folks to travel directly to you is diminished, though if you’ve not yet submitted a response you may receive a call.

This is a 10-minute task for you, but for our communities, it means a lot.

The Census takes place every decade. It’s meant to get an accurate count of people living in each community, county and state across the United States of America.

Here are some of the ways Census data affects everyday life:

— Soon, the country will go through a redistricting process. Not only are the shapes of areas of U.S. House districts determined, but how many each state is allotted is determined by the Census. Each state gets two Senators, but the number of representatives in the U.S. House is determined by the population. A low Census count could mean less representation in D.C.

— A similar impact is had at the state level, where state senate and state house seats are proportioned in accordance with Census counts.

— Federal and state funding also takes Census data into account. We’re talking money at stake for hospitals, fire departments, schools, infrastructure and more. The federal government distributions more than $1 trillion to communities, and the Census is a part of the decision-making process.

— Businesses often rely on Census data when determining where to open and where to expand.

In Iowa, 89.4% have responded to the Census. That’s below the nationwide total of 91.8%, and less than the 99.8% of Idahoans that have responded.

In Wapello County, 65.1% have responded to the Census. Wapello County is ranked 83rd in Iowa for its lackluster response rate. Ottumwa, which has a response rate of 64.9%, is ranked 566th out of Iowa’s cities.

We have to do better than that, folks.

If you’re one of the 34% that have not responded, fix it today. Help our community get an accurate count of its population so we can be represented fairly, and to make sure we aren’t inappropriately disadvantaged when competing for federal and state money.

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