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Quarantine Challenge: Fill Out the 2020 Census

It’s something you can do for your country—without leaving your couch.

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So, you’re probably at home right now (good job!) and have internet or cellular service (thanks for reading!). You’ve cleaned out your closets. Rage-baked. Binge-watched Tiger King. Folded your clothes. But have you, ahem, filled out the 2020 Census?

Well, there’s no time like the present, because it turns out that the once-every-decade-count is already prepped for social distancing. In the olden days (OK, just 10 years ago) the census relied heavily on workers going door-to-door to collect information about the nation’s population. Today, you can use a computer, smart phone, or tablet. You can call 844-330-2020. You can even mail in a paper form. In short: “It’s never been easier to respond,” says Laurie Cipriano, a media specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau.

For a refresher: the Census—an effort to count every person living in America—is a big deal. It’s so important that it is included in the Constitution. Journalists and data crunchers love this because it gives us up-to-date information we can use to report on population growth and other topics. But we’re not the only ones who rely on it.

“Those population numbers are going to stick with us for 10 years, and those population numbers are how we divvy up federal funds,” Cipriano says. It also determines representation in Congress (there’s some speculation that Colorado could get another member in the U.S. House of Representatives this time around) and more.

The form takes about 10 minutes to complete and—this is important—each household (not individual) should respond once. So, if you live with roommates or a partner, make sure not to duplicate efforts. If you’re unsure of where to report—say you’re a student or someone living in a temporary location because of COVID-19—click here to learn more about what to do.

Invitations to complete the census were sent out in March and people are already responding. That’s good news because if people fill out the form early, the census can dedicate resources to reaching hard-to-count populations, including homeless Coloradans and people who live in areas with little or no internet and cellular service. “We just want to make sure that all Coloradans are counted once—only once—and in the right place,” Cipriano says.

As of March 30, 38 percent of Coloradans had filled out the census, which is slightly better than the national average of 36.2 percent. Go Centennial State! There’s an interactive map where you can track the state’s progress each day. And while we realize that it isn’t the same as watching sports, for those of you who are missing live games, keeping track of Colorado’s progress might make your competitive side happy.

If that’s you, here’s where we’re at: Nebraska, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin are leading the way. With a surge this week—April 1 is Census Day—the Centennial State could be at the top. What do you think Colorado: challenge accepted?

So, while you’re brewing coffee today, hitting refresh on CNN, or just doing this whole stay-at-home thing, take a break. Fill out the survey and help your community—all without leaving your house.

This story is part of The Stay Inside Guide to Denver. For more ideas on enjoying the Mile High City from home, click here.

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