{child_kicker}City of Verona {/child_kicker}

Unified Newspaper Group

City census efforts have been delayed amid coronavirus concerns, and officials are encouraging residents to fill out their respective forms online.

Staff were just getting a push to aid the federal government in the 2020 Census when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic Wednesday, March 11.

Resulting decisions by the state to limit public gatherings and discourage in-person contact led the city to suspend most meetings for the immediate future and focus on curbing the spread of the illness.

“I don’t know when we will have another meeting at this point as we are doing everything day by day,” Holt said

Prior to that, community development specialist Katherine Holt told the Press the city had formed a Complete County Committee at the Federal Census Bureau’s recommendation to oversee efforts at making sure everyone in Verona is counted.

Holt said the city had fliers made to stuff into food bags at the Senior Center, and the library had arranged to dedicate a computer where people could access and fill out the Census form. Other online and in-person publicity opportunities were also planned.

However, with city buildings like the senior center and library now closed indefinitely, it’s unclear when some of those planned activities will be able to continue.

The U.S. Census Bureau began mailing census forms and sending online invitations for people to complete their forms this month.

Census forms should be returned by April 1.

Prior to the coronavirus taking hold in the United State, workers hired by the Census Bureau were to go door to door in an effort to collect outstanding forms.

However, on March 18, a press release from U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said field operations would be halted until April 1 “in support of guidance on what we can all do to help slow the spread of coronavirus.”

The release stated that census takers would begin going to households to collect responses in May.

“We will adjust census taker and survey operations as necessary in order to follow the guidance of federal, state and local health authorities,” Dillingham wrote in the release.

According to an email from Holt, in 2010 Verona had an 87% participation rate for mailing in the Census form. Rutland also had an 87% participation rate and Cottage Grove had an 88% rate.

Renee Hickman can be contacted at renee.hickman@wcinet.com or follow her on Twitter at @ReneeNHickman