With response climbing, time to keep pushing

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: The time to be counted is now.

Sampson County has responded. In the two weeks since we used this space to urge participation in the 2020 Census, you have done just that. Now, we implore you to keep that momentum.

As of Thursday, Sampson had a 48.7% response rate in the Census, which is 5.1% higher than two weeks ago, on April 30, when the figure stood at 43.6%. It is a solid climb considering the number had risen just 1% in the week prior to that.

That percentage is still trending lower than the North Carolina average of 55.3%, which itself is behind the national average of 59.1%.

There is still work to be done, and enumerators are now in the process of delivering Census packages to houses with P.O. Boxes and rural routes that have not yet received questionnaires from the Census Bureau in the mail. The “contactless” deliveries began this week. The packet contains a complete 2020 Census questionnaire with a postage-paid return envelope.

Originally expected to start coming around in April, enumerators were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic that pushed the fluid timeline back to mid-June. However, that modified timeline then became modified again, with Census officials notifying those in Sampson on Wednesday that the packets were going out immediately.

Knowing that, we wanted to take the opportunity to further bolster the progress that is already being made. And it is progress, as Keela Reyes, partnership specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau’s NC field division, will attest.

In an email to Sampson County Complete Count Committee members on Thursday, she noted the “awesome” progress being made, a far cry from the plateau the county had seemingly reached at the end of April.

“We are so close to reaching the 50% mark for the county,” she stated. “That’s a really important milestone. Let’s keep pushing to get there!”

We echo that sentiment.

As of Thursday, Newton Grove was leading the way in individual town reports with 54.2% of residents participating (up from 49.7% on April 30). Clinton is second at 52% (up from 46.3%) and Harrells is third at 38.8% (up from 36.7%). Garland is next at 36.1% (up from 31.6%) followed by Roseboro, at 32.9% (up from 30%) and Salemburg, at 31.7% (up from 30.8%).

Autryville and Turkey round out the 2020 Census participation rates at 20,9% and 14.9%, each up .nearly a percentage point from April 30.

Richard Carr, chair of Sampson County Complete Count Committee for the 2020 Census, has implored community members to participate in the Census, which he said would serve to affect benefits provided to the area.

There are many things going on in the world, but the Census will not wait.

“The coronavirus is the utmost of importance right now, but at the same time we want to make sure that the Census doesn’t pass us by and not get the attention it needs,” Carr said.

The Census is held every 10 years as mandated by the U.S. Constitution to count all citizens in the U.S. and other territories. Its impact is wide-ranging, informing Congressional seating and the distribution of hundreds of billions in federal dollars for a plethora of programs.

Filling out those forms should only take about 10 minutes, Census officials said. Information is safe, confidential and is protected by federal law. Bank accounts, credit accounts, Social Security numbers, and other private information will not be collected by Census officials.

There is plenty else going on, and we understand that, but let’s not leave something undone today that we will regret for the next 10 years.

For more information about the 2020 Census, visit www.2020census.gov. The 2020 Census questionnaire assistance line is 1-844-330-2020.