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Census Experts Worry Coronavirus Pandemic Could Impact 2020 Count

Some census experts worry that the coronavirus pandemic could impact the 2020 census count.

As COVID-19 spreads throughout San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, some worry that it will make counting the two counties’ population in the 2020 census even harder.

Karthick Ramakrishnan is a professor of political science at UC Riverside and director of the Inland Empire Complete Count Committee.

He says the disruption caused by coronavirus can make people harder to count.

Ramakrishnan:So if people are no longer able to work and they become housing insecure, potentially it becomes more difficult to reach them. So I think especially when it comes to our most vulnerable communities, those who live paycheck to paycheck, those who are struggling to get by, that's where the impacts of census will be. That's where the impact of COVID-19 will be greatest in terms of the census undercount.”

To combat this challenge, the U.S. Census Bureau has tried to go digital.

Ramakrishnan:What's happening now and what's been heartening to see is for about a week and a half already, many of the census outreach partners have been transitioning to digital engagement as well as phone banking. So calling people rather than going to their doors and reaching them through social media.”

Ramakrishnan says nonprofit and government engagement on the census issue has prepared the community for a moment like this.

Ramakrishnan: “Census outreach and engagement over the last year and a half has prepared our community as well as our philanthropic organizations like the Inland Empire Community Foundation as well as our community partners to be able to tend to the needs of our most vulnerable populations as well as making sure that we're as close to the ground as possible throughout the Inland Empire.”

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