U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen talked with Snohomish County officials and community members about the 2020 Census during a panel discussion he held on Aug. 20.
Larsen, who represents the 2nd Congressional District that includes most of Marysville, Arlington and Tulalip, talked with others to encourage people to self-respond to the census.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the way the U.S. Census Bureau usually works during a census year, however the census is still being counted with a deadline of Sept. 30 currently.
"I am calling for an extension to make sure the Census Bureau has the time and resources for an accurate count," said Larsen.
Those who haven't filled out the census can still go to 2020census.gov.
Snohomish County is currently at a 72.5 percent self-response rate, which is better than the last census response rate for the county in 2010.
Census numbers are important information for a number of reasons.
The data "informs how public funds will be allocated into our communities to support things like hospitals, emergency services, our schools, the funding for roads, bridges and highways," said Larsen.
The county also uses population counts to understand and plan for how much support each area of the county needs.
"Data is ingrained in everything we do," said Snohomish County community relations manager Vanessa Gutierrez.
She gave the example of the recent COVID-19 pandemic and how census data helps the county understand how to allocate supplies and pandemic relief resources.
"We know the importance of resources in addressing a public health emergency," said Gutierrez.
An inaccurate count could mean fewer programs and services for the county.
"The services that are going to be the most affected are going to be not only the most historically undercounted populations but also the most historically marginalized populations," said Gutierrez.
It is because of that community members like Ben Young, part of the Snohomish County non-profit Communities of Color Coalition, helped with outreach and to get the message out this year to all groups.
"When Vanessa uses the word 'marginalized communities', well another word I use is 'overlooked' communities. The more accurate the count, the less likely that these communities of color are going to be overlooked," said Young.
The census data is not only used by government agencies for funding, but also by businesses when they're looking at the population groups they're serving.
That data could mean the difference between what kind of hair care products and types of food are available at local stores, said Young.
"It makes people feel welcome to the community and want to become part of the community," when they are seen and have those products and services available to them, said Young.
Workers for the U.S. Census Bureau must take a lifetime oath pledging to protect the confidentiality of information.
Those who want more information about the census or to self-respond their information can go to 2020census.gov.