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COVID-19 Crisis Points to the Need for Everyone in L.A. County to Complete the Census

Health officials sound the alarm that current low census response rates put L.A. County at risk of losing out on federal funding to respond to emergencies like COVID-19 for the next ten years

An accurate count is essential because the census influences billions of dollars in federal funding that helps patients access health care services, as well as funding for substance use disorder treatment and prevention, schools, support for people who lose their jobs and services for seniors.

“To help fight COVID-19, we not only need people to wear a face covering and maintain physical distancing—they should also make sure they are counted in the census. Not completing the census could deprive L.A. County of the very resources we need to fight the pandemic and other diseases that have life-or-death consequences in our community. It takes only ten minutes to fill out the census, and you can do it right from home on your computer or phone,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.Ed., said. “We all lose if our residents don’t take part. Not completing the census is like throwing away money that we desperately need to protect the health and well-being of our communities and families.”

It has never been easier to take the census from the comfort of your home:

  1. Respond Online: Respond to the Census online by visiting the My Census 2020 portal (Census Bureau website). The questionnaire is available in 13 languages to ensure that you can respond in your preferred language.

    Refer to the Online Response Guide (Census Bureau webpage) to access the questionnaire in alternative languages and see responses to FAQs about the online questionnaire.

  2. Respond over the Phone: English speakers can call (844) 330-2020 and Spanish speakers (844) 468-2020 to participate in the Census by phone. Lines are open every day from 10 AM to 5 PM PST and also available in 13 languages.

    Visit Questions Asked (Census Bureau webpage) to preview questions and/or refer to the Phone Response Guide (Census Bureau webpage) to learn more about responding by phone.

  3. Respond by Mail: To respond to the Census, you can mail back the paper questionnaire sent to your home (these were mailed to areas less likely to respond online in March). The paper questionnaire includes a prepaid postage envelope to return it by mail.

    Visit the Paper (Mail) Response Guide (Census Bureau webpage) to confirm that the 2020 Census questionnaire you received is legitimate, learn instructions for completing the paper form and more.

    Find county-specific census information in 16 languages on the L.A. County 2020 Census website and general census information in 59 languages on the U.S. 2020 Census website.

    “We’re happy that residents taking advantage of our expanding network of community-based COVID-19 testing sites will also be able to learn how important the census is to all of us in L.A. County,” L.A. County Health Services Director Christina Ghaly, M.D., said. “Filling out the census means we can all contribute to our communities’ future health and resilience.”

    L.A. County’s census response rate is 72.3 percent as of August 15. This is significantly behind California’s overall 65.1 percent response rate, and far behind L.A. County’s goal of 100 percent participation. 

    Completing the census is private. Responses are protected by federal law, specifically Title 13 of the United States Code. They cannot be shared with any other government agencies or other entities, including your landlord.

    About the Census

    The U.S. Constitution mandates a census of the nation’s population every 10 years. Census statistics are used to determine the number of seats each state holds in Congress and how much in federal funding is allocated to state and local communities for the next 10 years. Local government officials use the census to plan new schools and hospitals. Businesses use census data to decide where to build factories, offices and stores, which creates jobs. Real estate developers and city planners use the census to plan new homes and improve neighborhoods. Residents use the census to support community initiatives involving legislation, quality-of-life and consumer advocacy.