Census Bureau workers will be dropping off information to rural Baker County residents for another couple of weeks requesting that they complete their 2020 Census forms.
The enumerators are helping ensure that rural residents, about 500 households in Baker County, are not left out of the count of “every single person residing in the United States,” said Jeffrey Enos.
He is the Census Bureau’s deputy regional director for the Los Angeles Region, which includes these seven states: Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Washington, Hawaii and Alaska. He spoke with the Herald in a telephone interview from Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Enos said the attempt to reach rural Oregonians began in March and was put on hold until the operation resumed this week.
Enumerators worked closely with health officials at the state and local levels to determine when it would be deemed safe to start up again because of the coronavirus pandemic, Enos said.
The employees, who carry photo identification and laptop computers that show they are from the Census Bureau, will be wearing masks as they travel in the rural areas or to in-town addresses of people who receive their mail through a post office box only.
“We work closely with the U.S. Postal Service to refine where the address is tied to the ground,” he said. “We do not send questionnaires to post office boxes.”
Much like postal workers, the Census Bureau enumerators will be delivering information to those addresses. They will leave Census questionnaires in a bag hung on the door of each residence. There will be no need for people to interact with the enumerators, Enos said.
Residents might see employees walking in the area of their homes and working to update Census maps while also distributing questionnaires for people who have not yet done so to send to the Census Bureau.
The Census Bureau began its 2020 work last fall and many people already have self-responded by mail or online. That option is still available until Oct. 31 by mail, online at 2020census.gov or by phone at 844-330-2020, Enos said.
Statewide, 61.5% of Oregonians have completed their questionnaires. Baker County lags just a bit behind with 50.3% having self-reported, Enos said.
The rural coverage is expected to be completed by early June, he added.
Additional follow-up in an attempt to make sure everyone is counted will begin in August and continue through Oct. 31.
In encouraging people to fill out the questionnaires, Enos pointed to the benefits their action provides to the nation, their state and their community.
“Hundreds of billions of dollars are distributed based on the Census,” he said.
It takes less than 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire.
“And we don’t ask questions about income, citizenship or immigration status,” he said.
Information gathered is confidential and will not be shared.
“It’s really easy to fill out the Census,” Enos said. “There are 10 questions and it takes less than 10 minutes.”