Why social distancing won't stop the 2020 census

Published: Apr. 9, 2020 at 4:11 PM EDT
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The deadline to complete census 2020 is drawing closer, but with Vermonters social distancing, there's an easier way to fill it out. Our Elissa Borden takes a look at how the pandemic is changing the game for the census.

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing census workers to think outside the box to get responses this year.

The Complete Count Commission was formed several months ago. Coordinator Michael Moser says it's working to get as many responses from Vermonters as possible. The data will then be used for state and federal redistricting, and to maximize funding for their areas.

"We're all federal taxpayers and we pay those dollars out to the feds and we see those dollars come back to us in the form of transportation grants, housing and urban development grants, wastewater treatment facility grants," Moser explained.

This is the first year the census is available online, which officials hope will help with response rates.

"Everyone is home or should be home. A lot of people are home and may have more time on their hands to just hop on and take five minutes to respond for their household," Moser said.

Some Vermonters have done exactly that. Mick Zack said it took him two minutes to submit it online.

"It's important for allocation of funds and surveying the population, I guess, and it was really easy to take," Zack said.

But for those Vermonters who haven't taken it, there's still time.

"No, it's just another form that I sort of have put off," Rich Brandt said. "I'm not uneasy answering it, I think it's important, you know, for the government to know things for housing for demographics and that kind of stuff. So, I think it's useful and there's no reason not to do it."

The last day to respond to the census is August 14. Census workers will check in at non-respondent homes beginning in May.

Those with no way to access the online form can call the U.S. Census Bureau to respond at 844-330-2020.

For those Vermonters without internet access or a smartphone, we're told that in the coming months, census officials hope to have door-to-door workers and libraries back at their disposal.