By Tim Monroe, Cowboy State Daily
BEE Counted! That’s the message of Casper’s official Census 2020 mascot, “BUZZ.”
Buzz, a large bee, has appeared in parades, meetings and on television. In early April, Buzz even rode Casper’s transit system, The Bus, to acquaint riders with the importance of completing their Census 2020 forms.
Natrona County has seen a fairly good response to the U.S. Census Bureau’s requests for households to answer the bureau’s questions about their members. So far, 54.3% of the households have replied.
It’s interesting to note that 46% replied digitally, through the internet connection. Those households received a letter asking them to complete the short census form and use the email connection. A long password was included.
Laramie County leads the state in responses at 62.3%, with 56.3% of those responses coming from the internet. Park County is next at 57.2%, with 43.7% responding via the internet. Sublette County trails all Wyoming counties with a response rate of 12.8%. Interestingly, at this point in the 2010 Census, 44.9% of Wyoming households had responded.
Households that have not replied to the requests will soon receive a post card asking them to complete the response. Normally, those households would receive a visit from a census worker, but due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic, personal contact is prohibited.
As of May 4 there were four Area Census Offices that resumed hiring for Non-response Followup field staff. Those four field offices are Billings, Montana, Bismarck, North Dakota, Cleveland County, Oklahoma, and Orem and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Also, for places where the majority of households do not receive mail at their location, Census 2020 will soon resume dropping off packets at the front doors of homes.
The Census deadline has been extended into October due to delays associated with COVID-19.
In the Denver Region, consisting of a dozen states, Nebraska leads with a nearly 64% response rate. Utah, Colorado and Kansas are all at more than 60% response. Wyoming is next to last with 47.5%, trailed only by New Mexico at 44.7%.
People can still respond online at 2020Census.gov, completing the paper questionnaire and mailing it back or by calling a toll-free telephone number listed on the census website.
Many counties have formed Complete Count Committees, as have many States.
In Natrona County, Liz Becher chairs a committee of a couple of dozen residents. They represent non-profits, media, health organizations, and the general public.
Becher is Casper’s community development director. She is very aware of the need for a complete count of residents, since the city will receive about $1,600 per person over the next 10 years through various government programs.
And the population totals qualify communities for various grants that help serve the community and don’t drain the general fund.