The 2020 Census is still happening: Getting the word out as COVID-19 changes collection plans
PhillyCAM released a series of videos in seven languages stressing the importance of responding to the decennial count. That’s even more so in a pandemic.
The 2020 census is the first in history to take a digital-first approach to filling out information for the U.S.’s decennial count.
In some ways, the approach is doubly valuable as the coronavirus pandemic keeps most of the country quarantined in their homes.
Despite the coronavirus shutdown, the change has helped 48% of all U.S. households fill out the census according to the U.S. Census Bureau since March 12.
But while the online format is doing its job, COVID-19 has complicated the in-person efforts into hard-to-count communities, where not everyone has access to a computer or the internet to fill out the census form.
March 1 was the initial date set for census field offices to begin their peak operation phases, or start hiring and deploying workers into neighborhoods to go door-to-door.
Now, with coronavirus quarantines of varying levels across the country, that date has been pushed back to June 1.
The deadline for self-response online, through mail or by phone has also been delayed from July to October 31.
One look at Philadelphia’s map of hard-to-count communities and almost the whole city appears in the red. To change that, and combat the lack of federal funding for community efforts in 2020, the city created its own census office, Philly Counts 2020.
A large part of that still ongoing effort is to engage and count Philly’s many minority and immigrant communities that are historically undercounted.
To help, PhillyCAM created a series of videos in seven languages in the lead up to Census Day on April 1 to further stress the importance of the census and its process. The videos were made in partnership with community partners like the African Cultural Alliance of North America, Laos in the House, Philatinos Radio, the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition and the city’s Philly Counts Office.
The languages featured are English, Spanish, Lao, Haitian Creole and five African languages including Yoruba, Mandinka, Soninke, Amharic and Fulani.
“It was important that these videos be culturally appropriate and feature the voices and faces of these communities,” said Nasha Taylor, Community Engagement Director at PhillyCAM at the time of their release. “The Census will impact resources and political representation for all Philadelphians. We hope these videos will increase participation among the communities that need those resources most.”
Today, more than a month into census collection and in the middle of a global pandemic, the videos are arguably more important than ever to continuing to get the word out.