U.S. Census workers begin in-person contacts in Murray

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U.S. Census workers are now going door-to-door in Murray County, seeking information which could help provide millions of dollars in funding for a wide range of local programs.

The workers will either gather the information on the spot or leave a paper questionnaire to be filled out and returned by mail. 

Marilyn Stephens, assistant regional Census manager for the Atlanta region, recently told The Times that only about 49 percent of households in unincorporated Murray County have responded to the Census. The number was better in Chatsworth, where 56 percent of households had responded, according to Stephens.

Stephens said response to the Census was hugely important to Murray County residents.

“The funding for many important programs is based on population,” said Stephens. “We are talking about programs that are really important to all of us or to someone in our families.”

Stephens said federal spending on categories like health care, nutrition, education and transportation are impacted heavily by census information. Programs like Head Start, the Pell Grant, school lunches, senior care, road improvements, aid to rural hospitals and many others see their funding based in part on population.

Census workers will be canvassing the county, trying to contact any residents who have not already responded. She said social distancing and other safety measures, including IDs and masks, will be taken by all Census employees.

“The workers will stay outside the home,” she added.

Stephens emphasized that the information gathered for the Census is kept private, as required by federal law.

“No law enforcement agency can get Census data,” Stephens said. “Neither the IRS or ICE or the FBI will see it. The information is protected by law.”

The Census questionnaire contains only nine questions. It is available in Spanish and other languages.

Residents can respond by phone at 844-330-2020 (844-468-2020 for Spanish), provide the information on line at 2020census.gov. or by filling out a paper questionnaire and returning it by mail.

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