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PRINCETON — On the day Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a shelter-in-place order for Illinois residents to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Princeton Public Library issued a press release reminding people to not let the coronavirus pandemic overshadow the importance of the 2020 Census.

By residents not filling out the form, local communities risk losing thousands of dollars from the federal government, the release states.

“The amount lost to the community for each person who fails to complete the census is $1,800, and as our (library) board president Carolyn Schafer pointed out at a recent Voices From the Prairie event, this is a 10-year span before the next census,” the release states.

“That is $18,000 per person between this census and the 2030 census. For 10 people that aren’t counted, that is $180,000, for 20 people that is $360,000.”

The results of the 2020 Census will be used to direct billions of dollars in federal funds to local communities for schools, roads and other public services, in addition to transportation and emergency readiness needs.

The top programs that relay on census data are Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicare Part B, Highway Planning and Construction, Federal Pell Grant Program, National School Lunch Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, and Title 1 Grants to Local Education Agencies.

All information provided to the census is private and not shared with other governmental agencies. Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about individuals, households or businesses, even to law enforcement agencies. The law states that the information collected can only be used for statistical purposes and no other purpose.

Nearly every household will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census by mail or through a census worker.

To complete the census by mail, fill out the form and return it to the address provided. To complete it by phone, call 1-800-354-7271. To complete it online, visit Don’t have internet? Take a cellphone or other electronic device to the library’s parking lot where wi-fi can be accessed for free.

“There is no need to be around people to fill out the survey, you can do it and still follow the coronavirus safety guidelines,” the release states. “The coronavirus has thrown everyone’s life in a tailspin, and we are adapting to changes everyday, but everyone can set aside 10 minutes to contribute $18,000, or $180 per minute to answer 10 questions.”

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