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Not too late to respond to census

It’s vitally important for the future of our community that everyone who lives in Suffolk is counted in the census.

There is only one month left to respond to the census, whether you self-respond online, by phone or by mail, or whether you wait until someone comes to your home to ask you the census questions. The deadline is Sept. 30, and it’s not too late to self-respond if you haven’t already.

Getting an accurate census count is of great urgency, even — and perhaps especially — during a time when we are dealing with numerous other issues as a nation. Gov. Ralph Northam took time from a COVID-19 press conference on Tuesday to encourage all Virginians to respond to the census.

Statewide, nearly 85% of households have been enumerated, whether they self-responded or were counted in the nonresponse follow-up process. That’s a good number, but we have one month to get that number to 100%. Your self-response can help.

According to the Census Bureau, data from the census informs federal funding for more than 100 programs, including school lunches, highway construction, housing and lots more.

There are lots of state- and local-level decisions made using census data, as well. The results show where communities need new schools, new clinics, new roads, and more services for families, older adults and children, the Census Bureau website states. For example, an area composed mostly of older adults may not need a playground but could use a senior center.

Many people know data from the census is used to determine how many seats each state gets in the House of Representatives, and where those districts are drawn. But state and local voting districts, right down to the precinct level, are also drawn based upon census data.

The Census Bureau is bound by U.S. Code to keep answers confidential, and identifiable information about you, your home and your business cannot be released to anyone — even law enforcement or immigration agencies, according to the Census Bureau’s website.

For more information, visit 2020census.gov. If you would like to respond to the census by phone, you can also call 844-330-2020.