Our Opinion: Don't let virus lower the census

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It truly is a low blow that a pandemic would arrive at the same time that a 10-year U.S. Census is being conducted. That is the reality, however, and while Berkshire County residents are understandably focused on the coronavirus some of that focus must be shifted to the census.

Field operations were suspended on Wednesday, which hurts given that county residents traditionally respond best to face-to-face contact with census workers, according to Mark Maloy, a planner for the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission who is heading the local census effort. ("Census efforts stricken by virus," Eagle, March 19.) That approach conflicts with efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus by reducing social interaction.

It has become critical that residents go online to fill out a census form and help assure that the county not lose any political representation or federal grant money. You don't have to be internet-savvy as the forms are easy to access and to fill out. Many residents have received forms in the mail providing information on how to fill out the census on line, and we urge them to do so if they have not already done so. Residents can also go to my2020census.gov to fill out the form. The census also has a toll free number, 844-330-2020.

Mr. Maloy observes that between $2,500 and $3,000 per person per year in federal dollars is sent into a community based on census results, and this is the last census until 2030. That is the price tag on each person who doesn't respond to the census, and if you are a minority, elderly, of college age or of low income, your failure to respond will reduce funding for programs that benefit you the most. Everyone in Berkshire County counts — and must be counted.

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