Census continues despite COVID-19 setbacks

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a change of plans to several operations across the country, one thing that cannot wait is the 2020 census.

As of data collected May 15, 56 percent of Franklin County has completed the census, based off of numbers collected in the 2010 census.

“I feel like with the pandemic going on, a lot of people do not view the census as a priority because they have other things to worry about,” said Katernia Cole-Coffey, who is a member of the Franklin County 2020 census committee.

Despite the pandemic changing people’s priorities, Cole-Coffey said responding to the census questionnaire still needs to top that to do list. She said many people do not understand the significance of completing the census.

“A lot of federal programs and federal grants are based on the data from the census,” Cole-Coffey said. “Everything from roads to school programs to libraries and community centers can be affected.”

She also said the census data plays a big role in recruiting businesses to the area based on the population.

Senior coordinator Dick Rowland said it is important for everyone in the community to come together and do their part by participating in the census.

“We need to have unity in the community, and for us to have that, community members need to do their part,” Rowland said.

Rowland also said it is important for community members to understand the information collected in the census is not released for 72 years and is important in maintaining family history.

He said the census is also not concerned with a person’s legal status but rather is interested in understanding the population density in an area.

The more people are counted as living in an area, the more money this area will receive over the next 10 years in state and federal dollars. Rowland said if Franklin County shows an increase of 10,000 in population, that would mean an additional $160 million for Franklin County.

Cole-Coffey said the pandemic has changed the census committee’s ideas for marketing the census. A lot of the marketing so far has consisted of social media and advertising.

The committee has also been asking local leaders and business owners to encourage people to take the census.

Signs are available to promote the census, and window signs are being given to business owners with information about the census in English and Spanish.

As of the May 15 data, Phil Campbell is leading areas in Franklin County with 63.6 percent of participants having filled out the census.

Hodges is at 57.2 percent; Vina is at 57.1 percent; Russellville is at 55.6 percent; and Red Bay is at 55.4 percent.

“We just ask that everyone do their part and complete their census,” Coffey said. “It is important for everyone to do their part in their community and to do their part in Franklin County.”