2020 Census and Public Health

Census data is the frame work of nearly every aspect of our duties as your public health department. From research and surveillance to funding levels and making policies, census data also impacts food assistance programs for low-income families and Medicaid funding. According to a study published in February 2019 in APHA’s American Journal of Public Health, an inaccurate 2020 count could hinder public health planning efforts, impede work to eliminate disparities, and make it more difficult to respond to novel and emerging public health threats.

The accuracy of the 2020 census is critical to our agency so that we can continue to serve our community in the capacity we do, and continue to add more services in the future. The amount of funding we receive is based on an accurate population count; and an accurate population count is key for us to apply proper statistics when we are trying to prevent outbreaks and the transmission of communicable and infectious diseases. Secure funding allows us to continue our work in preventing people in our community from getting sick.

Occurring every 10 years, data from the census is used to inform countless decisions across private and public sectors, from how to disperse federal funds and apportion congressional seats to where to build roads, schools and businesses. In 2017 more than 300 federal spending programs relied on 2010 census data to distribute about $1.5 trillion to state and local governments, nonprofits, businesses and households, accounting for nearly 8% of the country’s gross domestic product.

The census letters are expected to hit the majority of households in the US by mid-March. This year will also be the first year that online responses are available which creates a unique opportunity for those to complete the census easily and efficiently. The census reporting is expected to end some time in late July and we urge all of our county residents to take 10 minutes to complete it for their household. You can see each question and how the answers are used on the 2020 Census website. You can respond to the 2020 Census three ways: online, by telephone, or by mail. To fill it out online, go to my2020census.gov. You can use any internet-enabled device (cellphone, computer, tablet, etc.), and answer the questions in 12 different languages.

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