By Chris Mackey
As county residents look for things to occupy their time while sheltering in place due to COVID-19, one thing they can do, that has the potential to shape the future of their communities, is to fill out a 2020 census form.
Most households should have received an invitation in the mail in March to complete the 2020 census.
The census can be completed online, by phone or by mail, and the deadline to respond has been extended from July 31 to October 31 due to COVID-19.
As of April 19, Garvin County’s self-response rate to the 2020 census is 35.2%, below the 45.7% average response rate for communities across the state of Oklahoma, according to the U.S Census Bureau’s website.
The website also breaks down self-response rates by city. Household response rate percentages for municipalities in Garvin County are: Paoli, 10.2; Maysville, 20.3; Stratford, 29.6; Elmore City, 37.5; Pauls Valley, 41.9; Wynnewood, 45; and Lindsay, 46.9.
The U.S. Constitution requires a count of every person living in the United States be taken every 10 years.
An accurate count is important because the results of the census are used to determine how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives and how the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts are redrawn to account for population shifts.
The data also determines how more than $675 billion in federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are distributed.
That money is spent on schools, hospitals, roads, public works, fire departments and other vital programs.
Private sector businesses also use census data to decide where to open new stores, restaurants, factories or offices and where to expand operation.
Due to COVID-19, the census bureau has adjusted its timeline for following up in person with households that fail to self-respond to the census.
As of right now, census takers are scheduled to visit those households between August 11 and October 31.
For more information about the 2020 census, visit 2020census.gov.