Community leaders discuss low Census response in southern West Virginia

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WELCH, WV (WVNS) — Low Census response numbers out of southern West Virginia caught the attention of Governor Jim Justice. During his COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 the Governor announced only 4.7 percent of the population in McDowell County filled out their Census paperwork.

Executive Director of the Commission on Aging in McDowell County, Donald Reed, said being counted for the 2020 Census is very important in rural areas.

“All federal funding, which many agencies in McDowell receive, are tied to the census,” Reed said. “Whether that’s senior services, whether it’s the Board of Education, whether it’s our local Cath agencies. “

While broadband has improved in areas like McDowell County, Reed said many people in the community still do not have internet access to fill out the Census forms.

“We have the oldest population in West Virginia. So with that, there is a lack of trust of technology and honestly a lack of understanding because some of the wording and some of the ways to access the Census can be very technical,” Reed said.

In response to low census numbers in the mountain state, Mercer County Commissioner Greg Puckett wanted people of Mercer County to know Census workers are out collecting information, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All the census workers have been screened,” Puckett said. “They put things in a plastic bag, the fold the plastic bag over an they will lay it on your door step and that way you don’t have contact with them at all.”

Puckett reminded everyone that in order to get the correct amount of funding for the county, people need to fill out the 2020 Census.

“We’ve got to fill out the census to get every single number counted because if we don’t, then we know that the government will send the money else where,” Puckett said.

Complete the 2020 Census here.

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