coronavirus

Lightfoot Wants 2020 Census Delayed Over Coronavirus: Report

Lightfoot said Chicago can't improve participation in the count while virus prevention measures continue, according to the Chicago Sun-Times

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called on the U.S. Census Bureau to postpone the 2020 census, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Lightfoot said there isn't "enough bandwidth" to handle both the coronavirus response and census outreach properly, the Sun-Times reported Monday.

Lightfoot said members of her administration who would normally focus on Chicago's census participation have been moved to address the virus, according to the Sun-Times, adding that the same is true for community organizations vital to educating hard-to-reach people in Chicago.

In a televised coronavirus address to the city of Chicago on Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot talked about the city’s response to COVID-19, including extending the closure of Chicago Public Schools.

"We have to push back the census," Lightfoot said, according to the Sun-Times. "There's not enough bandwidth to do both particularly when what we’re talking about is going door-to-door, educating people. The libraries now are closed. So that avenue for filling out the digital applications isn’t available.”

The census, held every ten years, is currently underway. Local, regional and federal agencies have been preparing for months to ensure an accurate and robust count.

The census - mandated by the U.S. Constitution - determines representation in Congress, compiles critical data used by the public and private sector and helps apportion $675 billion in federal funding.

The coronavirus has brought normal life to a standstill for millions of people, including some members of the Census Bureau. Last week, the bureau announced it would delay field operations for two weeks due to concerns over the virus.

Advocates worry delayed state funding could hurt Illinois’ showing in the 10-year count, which determines how many U.S. House seats each state gets and how to distribute billions of federal dollars to local communities.

Field operations are crucial to education and participation. Workers going door-to-door are especially important for those who don't have internet access, or for people who may not be inclined to participate.

After much debate and controversy, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked President Donald Trump's administration from adding a question on U.S. citizenship to the census, with critics of the move saying it would deter participation.

As of Tuesday, census data showed 17.7% of Chicagoans and 23.8% of Illinoisans had already filled out the 2020 census, which is available online, by phone or by mail.

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