Pandemic impacts local 2020 Census count

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You can add the 2020 Census count to list of efforts impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The Augusta Complete Count met this week to discuss the local effort and we talked to the co-chairs after their meeting to get the update.

“It’s basically put a halt to everything that we were doing because you can’t go out and visit with people or assemble,” says Augusta Complete Count Committee Co-Chair Clint Bryant who is the Athletic Director at August University.

Bryant says the committee is working on new ways to get the word out about the 2020 census. He gives some examples for how they plan to educate virtually.

“Churches are all doing online services now we think this is an opportunity we can be apart of that,” Bryant explains.

There is a request to extend the deadline.

“The Census Bureau was asking the President and the President is going to support it– that the time be extended to October 31st,” Bryant explains.

Bryant says almost half of Richmond County has responded at this point.

“48% of the people in Augusta Richmond County have responded,” Bryant says. “That’s not super great, but it’s not bad.”

Co-Chair and South State Bank Executive Vice President Robert Osborne says once the data is categorized, they will nail down a plan to reach the uncounted homes.

“To my understanding, it has not been broken down into census tracts. Once we get that, the concentration in those neighborhoods and areas where the response has been low,” Osborne says.

Numerators were supposed to start going door-to-door in May. Now, they are hoping to send those census workers out later this year.

“It’s all about safety and making sure when they do send the numerators out that they will be covered if you will,” Bryant says. “I mean, with masks and whatever other safety garments that they need.”

Bryant says shelter in place could help with the 2020 census count “because people are at home.”

Osborne points out, the kind of money that can come from the Federal Government is front and center right now, which could highlight the need to respond to the census.

“People today probably realize the importance of having an accurate count of the number of people here because of money that can come from the Federal Government based on the census,” Osborne says.

You can respond to the 2020 census online, over the phone or by mail.

CLICK HERE for more information about the 2020 census.

Photojournalist Gary Hipps

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