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Be prepared! The Census may knock on your door

We hope everyone is staying safe as we continue to take precautions to protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19.

As you know, until there is a vaccine available and it can be widely distributed, we need to limit our circles of contact to protect the most vulnerable, people over 65 and those of any age with underlying health conditions. In August, most of Chautauqua County services that were shut down are back up and running but with new procedures to ensure you and the employees are as safe as possible. Like the Office for Aging, many departments continue to do as much as possible by phone or electronically to limit contact and possible spread of the virus. OFA staff is alternating days in the office so we never have more that 50% of our workers on site. Many services including OFA will start to see people in the office or through home visits, if necessary, but these are usually by appointment only. It is best to call the department before stopping in or check out the county websites for the most up to date information about the department you are trying to reach.

Everyone coming on to our campus in Mayville or to our outreach offices are required to wear a mask or face covering and will be undergoing screening for COVID-19. If you still do not have a mask, contact the NY Connects helpline for assistance.

August is also the time when Census workers will start going door to door to visit those who have not completed the on-line or mail-in census forms. A press release issued by the state division of Consumer Protection stated “It has never been more important for all New Yorkers to complete the Census, and we want to make sure every single person living in New York state is armed with key information about the process to ensure a complete count,” said New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. “Completing the Census is safe and easy, and the information you provide is confidential.

Jeff Behler, U.S. Census Bureau’s New York Regional Director, said, “I want to stress to all households, that it is safe to open your doors and speak with census takers when we visit. All data is protected under federal law and census takers must keep your answers confidential for life. We do not share your answers with anyone. We do not ask for citizenship status, social security numbers or bank information. By answering the census takers questions, you’ll help shape the future of your community for the next 10 years.”

Once every decade, the nation conducts the Census, which is a constitutionally mandated count of every American, regardless of their citizenship status. Chautauqua County’s fair share of federal funds for programs essential to health care, education, emergency planning, housing, economic development and transportation all depend on an accurate census count.

In the coming months, you may see Census takers, known as enumerators, in your neighborhood to collect responses to the 2020 Census. Census takers will only be visiting homes that haven’t yet responded to the Census online, by phone or by mail. All census takers have completed a virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing and other health and safety protocols and will follow CDC and local public health guidelines when they visit. All Census takers are required to wear a face mask and will also be equipped with hand sanitizer and gloves. Census takers are hired locally, and their goal is to help you and everyone in your home be counted in the 2020 Census. If the census taker who visits your home does not speak your language, you may request a return visit from a census taker who does. If no one is home when the census taker visits, the census taker will leave a notice of their visit with information about how to respond online, by phone or by mail.

Because people are worried about being scammed, the following information will help you identify an official Census taker:

¯Census takers will conduct their work between the hours of 9 am and 9 pm.

¯ All Census takers will have an ID badge that includes their name, their photo, a Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date.

¯In addition to wearing a mask, all Census takers will have an official 2020 Census bag and a laptop or smartphone, bearing the Census Bureau logo. There will be an “official business” notice on their car.

¯ Official Census takers will NEVER ask to enter your home, never ask for money, or threaten you, or request additional documentation.

More information on Census takers can be found at www.2020census.gov/en/census-takers

For questions about a Census taker’s identity, call 844-330-2020 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.

The Census asks just 10 basic questions: name; number of people living or staying in the home on April 1, 2020; whether the residence is owned or rented; telephone number (only to be used if needed for official Census Bureau business); sex; age; date of birth; Hispanic origin; race; and relationship with other household members. There are no citizenship questions on the 2020 Census. The Census will never ask for citizenship, immigration status, social security numbers, money or donations, for your bank information or credit card account numbers. The U.S. Census Bureau staff is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential and your census answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.

Senior groups wanting technical assistance on how to re-start programs under COVID-19 guidelines can contact our NY Connects Helpline. For more information on anything in this article, contact our NY Connects at (716) 753-4582, e-mail us at ccnyc@co.chautauqua.ny.us, or visit the Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services FaceBook page. Local COVID-19 updates visit Chautauqua County Website at https://chqgov.com or visit the CC DOH FaceBook page.

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