Census deadline extended in light of pandemic

05/12/2020 12:30 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
To help inspire tribal citizens to participate in the 2020 Census, the Cherokee Nation created an informational campaign called #CherokeeNationCounts. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – The deadline to get counted in the 2020 Census has been extended by three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it extended the self-response date from July 31 to Oct. 31. The move was made to “protect the health and safety of the American public and Census Bureau employees,” while also ensuring a complete and accurate count, according to the agency.

On its Facebook page, the Cherokee Nation urges its citizens to “respond now” to minimize the need to send census takers into communities during the pandemic. Citizens are also encouraged to mark “American Indian” and write in “Cherokee Nation” as their tribe.

“We’re asking that all Cherokee Nation citizens participate and fill out the 2020 census and be counted. I appreciate the deadline extension that will give our communities more time to go in and fill out their household information because as we’ve all seen through the COVID-19 response and recovery, our health care services, food distribution, housing and emergency services have been vital for our people through this public health crisis, and census numbers will determine our future funding for these programs,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said.

Through an informational campaign called #CherokeeNationCounts, tribal leaders have been urging citizens to get counted to guarantee an appropriate flow of federal funding for health, housing and other key programs that are based on census data. The tribe estimates that for each uncounted citizen, it loses $50,000 over the course of 10 years.

Participants are asked to count everyone living in their homes as of April 1, according to the bureau. For those who wish to respond online, visit 2020census.gov. Other options include responding via mail or by phone.

According to the Census Bureau, millions of people from across the country have already responded. Oklahoma, at 51.7%, was behind the national response rate of 57.7% as of May 7. Nearly 40% of Oklahoma’s responses were made online. In the 2010 Census, Oklahoma ultimately recorded a “self response” rate of 62.3%.

According to the CN, during the 2010 Census tribal communities such as those in Sequoyah and Adair counties had a lower participation rate. As of May 7, Sequoyah County had a 35.4% response rate while Adair County was 22.2%.

Cherokee County, where the CN is headquartered, was 45.6%. The county’s self-response rate in 2010 was 54.4%.

The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census of the population be conducted every 10 years. For questions or information, visit census.cherokee.org, email censusinfo@cherokee.org or call 918-430-3488.

On May 4, the Census Bureau announced that in certain locations it would resume field operations halted in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes dropping off census invitation packets at “households in areas where the majority of households do not receive mail at their home.” These counts represent an estimated 5% of the Census numbers, according to the bureau.

“All returning staff will receive safety training to observe social distancing protocols in the COVID-19 environment,” a news release from the bureau states. “For their safety and the safety of the public, the Census Bureau has ordered personal protective equipment for all field staff, including those that work in a field office. These materials will be secured and provided to staff prior to restarting operations.”

Oklahoma field offices that will resume operations include those in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Cleveland counties.
About the Author
Chad Hunter has spent more than two decades in the newspaper industry as a reporter and editor in Arkansas, Oklahoma and his home state of Missouri. He began working for the Cherokee Phoenix in late  ...
chad-hunter@cherokee.org • 918-453-5269
Chad Hunter has spent more than two decades in the newspaper industry as a reporter and editor in Arkansas, Oklahoma and his home state of Missouri. He began working for the Cherokee Phoenix in late ...


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