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COVID-19 underscores why vulnerable communities must complete the census

Low response rates in communities of color will impact funding for health and safety

Cook County’s mission is to ensure that communities across the county are responding to the 2020 Census not despite, but rather because of the global pandemic that is COVID-19. 40 percent of all of the state’s residents reside in Cook County and the county’s response rate to date stands at 54.5 percent, while the overall state of Illinois response rate is 59.4 percent. Yet many communities of color in Cook County have response rates less than 30%. Realizing that spending on vital health and emergency preparedness services are directly attributable to census funding, an accurate count remains vital.

The County has funded more than 84 organizations and local governments to reach hard-to-count communities. Hard-to-count communities are those where the response rate to the 2010 Census was less than 73% percent. They include those with language barriers, seniors, and those under the age of five, the homeless, returning residents, LGBTQIA, and those with a distrust of government. While every district in the county has some low responding communities, the largest number of low response rates are in those areas with large African American and Latinx populations

“While we remain extremely sensitive to the challenges residents are facing in light of COVID-19, we are also acutely aware that securing an accurate census count is integral to properly fund a host of services that impact our daily lives, notably public health and safety,” said Ellen Turner, president of The William Everett Group, the program administrator for the County’s outreach. “Our team is working closely with all the Commissioners, the Complete Count Census Commission and the county grantees as they engage with their constituents in this environment. Our goal is to ensure that county residents do not leave money on the table that is best used to better serve their communities.”

What is at stake is funding for the county over the next ten years, with each Cook County resident representing $1400 in funding for essential county services, which represents $14,000 over a decade. For updates on the County’s response rate visit, enter Illinois, and then Cook County.

2020 marks the first year that the census can be completed online, via computer, smartphone, or mobile device with internet access. Depending on the size of your family completing the census can take as little as 10 minutes. As always, the census form can be completed and mailed in, and if you prefer, you may reach the U.S. Census Bureau via phone. Phone assistance is available seven days a week from 7:00 am to 2:00 am ET at 844-330-2020. Assistance is also available in Spanish, Mandarin Cantonese, Polish and 11 other languages.

Cook County residents are encouraged to complete the census now by visiting For more information visit Cook County Census 2020.

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