Alva Review-Courier -

We're in uncharted territory

 

March 25, 2020



We are certainly experiencing an interesting time. It’s uncharted territory for most of us. Some people react with panic. Others refuse to pay attention to guidelines. Most of us are just staying calm and learning from new experiences.

I think it helps if you’re older and have lived through other crisis situations. I can remember several weather-caused hard times. There was the blizzard of 1971 that shut down everything. We gradually dug ourselves out but for a few days, northwest Oklahoma people were very isolated with no internet connections or cellphones like we have today. A little over a dozen years ago, this area was shut down for a few days by an ice storm that took out electric power.

We managed to get through those situations, and we’ll get through this one. Meanwhile, we need to be extra appreciative to those who continue to carry on under stressful situations. Medical and ambulance personnel, police, fire, city workers, people who stock the store shelves and interact with customers to name a few. Small businesses are taking a hit. I know advertising is dropping here at the newspaper, but we’re working to continue providing you with local information.

It’s interesting to note the empty shelves in the toilet paper section. The shortages of bleach, hand sanitizers and bleach-containing cleaners make more sense. I hear there’s also a shortage of firearm ammunition. Do people think someone’s coming after their toilet paper supply?

For those of you spending a lot of time at home, there are lots of opportunities to put purpose in your days. Pull out family photos and tell the kids stories about their relatives. Get outside if possible. Maybe you can work at planting flowers or a garden. Learn a new skill like crocheting or building a bird house. YouTube has some great how-to videos. A Google search can lead to all kinds of learning opportunities for all ages. I think I’m making some progress on teaching myself to knit.

One productive use of your time is to fill out the census form. One person per household should fill out the form for everyone living there. Our representation on the state and national level depends on it.

$1,800 per Person per Year

Oklahoma could lose $1,800 per year in federal funding for each person not counted in the census. By these measures, an undercount of just two percent could cost the state up to $1.8 billion over a decade, according to the Oklahoma Senate. If we want to get our fair share of our taxes returned to Oklahoma, we need to fill out census forms.

I’ve received two census notices mailed to my home address. They are addressed “To Resident At” so could be mistaken for junk mail. The envelope also says in big bold type: Your response is required by law. Questions are based on where you will be living April 1, but you don’t have to wait until then to fill it out.

Timing

After sending out a couple of reminder letters, a reminder postcard will be sent from March 26 to April 3 to those households that don’t respond. If you don’t get a census letter or postcard, you should still respond online (my2020census.gov) or by phone at 1-844-330-2020.

From April 8 to 16, those who haven’t responded will get a paper questionnaire. This is the only time most households will get a paper version.

Final reminder postcards will be sent April 20-27. The final day to respond is April 30. If you don’t respond, a census worker will come by to interview you.

Online Census

Using my census letter, I logged onto the website (my2020census.gov). You’ll need the 12-digit code from your letter also. It took me less than 10 minutes to fill out the census form online.

This is the first time it’s been offered online, and it was a very easy process. You can use the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari. You’ll need to enable cookies. Once you start, you should complete the questions. If you stop in the middle, you’ll have to start over.

If you have a computer but don’t have internet service, you can use the free wireless internet at the Alva Public Library. Libraries in other towns probably have the same service. Although the local library is closed, you can access the internet while parked out front.

You can also complete it using your smart phone if your phone plan includes internet access.

Paper Questionnaire

If you are unable to fill out the census online, you can wait for the paper questionnaire to arrive. Those are being sent out between April 8 and 16. Just complete it before April 30 and mail it in.

By Phone

If you need help completing your 2020 Census questionnaire or you didn’t get one, you can call toll free at 1-844-330-2020.

If You Don’t Respond

If you don’t respond, a census bureau interviewer will be sent to your home to collect your answers in person.

Questions Asked

Probably the hardest question on the form is figuring out your ethnic heritage. Mine is mixed with English, German, Scottish, Welsh and probably more. I just picked one. Here’s a list of the questions:

1. How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2020?

2. Were there any additional people staying here on April 1, 2020, that you did not include in question1?

3. (Pick one) Is this house, apartment or mobile home owned by you or someone in this household with a mortgage or loan? Is it owned by you or someone in this household free and clear (without a mortgage or loan)? Rented? Occupied without payment of rent?

4. What is your telephone number? (That’s in case the census has any questions about the way you filled this out.)

5. What is Person 1’s name? If there is someone living here who pays the rent or owns the residence, start by listing him or her as Person 1. If the owner or the person who pays the rent does not live here, start by listing any adult living there as Person 1. (There will be opportunities to list the names of additional members of your household.)

6. What is Person 1’s sex?

7. What is Person 1’s age and what is Person 1’s date of birth?

8. Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?

9. What is Person 1’s race? (This is the hard one!)

10. Print the name of Person 2. (The process repeats for each person in your household and asks how each additional person is related to Person 1.)

At the end (online), you’ll be given a chance to edit your answers if you think you made a mistake. Otherwise, you hit the submit button. Then you’ll get a receipt with a confirmation number you can save or print.

 

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