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IL Officials Announce Launch of Online Census Form, Encourage Use Amid COVID-19

Mar 12, 2020
Originally published on March 11, 2020 5:47 pm

Tomorrow will be the first day Illinois residents can start filling out the 2020 U.S. Census form online. State officials said remote technology will help with the count amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

Most residents will get information in the mail about how to fill out the census form online at my2020census.gov

The form is just nine questions long, and asks things like ‘How many people are living or staying with you?’ and ‘What’s your telephone number?’ Illinois’ officials are hoping it’s easy and quick enough for residents to complete on their own, whether or not they may be sick with the novel coronavirus.

Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou said, in light of the new virus that’s so far affected the Chicagoland area, remote methods for filling out the nine question form are even more crucial than usual.

“There is an option to do it online, by phone, or by mail," she said. "I think potentially that’s an even more important message today more than ever: that there is an opportunity to do it on your own.”

Each Illinois county has received a share of $20 million to fund remote and in-person counting efforts. 350 community organizations are partnering with the state on marketing and reaching out to what are called “hard to count” areas -- think nursing homes, the homeless, others who might not have access to technology.

Census office director Shonta Wilkerson says officials want to ensure everyone participates. Counting efforts, she said, will move forward despite public health concerns about the virus.

“I would like to have everyone counted, because we know that undercounting even one percent could cause us to lose resources and so we want to count everyone," Wilkerson said.

Illinois census officials are taking their cues from the Department of Public Health on whether to host public events encouraging census participation. Officials stress the count must go on; Illinois has dedicated a total of nearly $30 million to its counting efforts in the hopes of securing tens of billions of dollars in federal money that is based on its census count.

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