Nevada County census response lags state average |

Nevada County census response lags state average

John Orona
Staff Writer

With the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic beginning to reach Nevada County, with a total of four confirmed cases here, local officials are trying to ensure the response doesn’t affect the county for the rest of the decade.

The 2020 Census — responsible for determining political representation and federal funding for a broad range of services like health care and emergency services — has pushed back its deadlines and delayed some of its field operations in response to the coronavirus outbreak in hopes of maintaining an accurate count.

According to 2020 Census spokesperson Marna Davis, the census pushed back its self-response deadline two weeks to give people more time to respond, and did the same for its field operation follow-ups meant to help those who still haven’t responded to the questionnaire online.

Nevada County officials said in an update given Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors that the county has worked for about the last eight months with hard-to-count populations like seniors, veterans, the homeless, and people with limited internet access to extend outreach before the added complications of a pandemic, and are now trying to be flexible in ensuring everyone is counted.

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“We are all geared up to ensure that this is a complete count in Nevada County,” said Heather Heckler, communications manager with 211 Connecting Point. “This is the perfect census for this moment.”

Connecting Point worked with the county to create a website encouraging participation in the 2020 census, the first to be conducted primarily online.

Available 2020 Census data shows 23.3% of Nevada County residents have already responded, slightly below the state average of 25.2%

According to a Board of Supervisors staff report, the state loses about $1,000 in federal funding per person each year, over the 10 years until the next census, for each under counted Californian.

A Government Accountability Office report last month detailed shortcomings like a lack of workers and technology testing that could potentially affect the 2020 Census count accuracy. Time will tell whether the delays actually help increase the accuracy, but officials say residents should take advantage of that time.

“It’s really not a very hard thing to fill out,” Supervisor Sue Hoek said at the meeting. “I just did mine online yesterday. It’s very simple, it takes just a few minutes and it makes all the difference to your communities.”

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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