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Coronavirus: Census Bureau pauses field operations, extends completion deadline

Article in County News by Mary Ann Barton Published March 20, 2020

  • 26 March 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2283

NACo County News stock photo of a woman opening her door to a Census worker.

To slow the spread of coronavirus among workers and the public, 2020 census field operations are suspended until April 1 and the deadline to complete the census is now extended to August 14, the Census Bureau announced Friday.

The Census Bureau began dropping off packets in rural areas March 15, but that operation is also on pause at least until March 29, said Tim Olson, associate director of field operations for the Census Bureau, in a call with the media Friday.

“We want the public to know the health of our staff and the public is of utmost importance,” he said. “We are carefully monitoring the situation and are following guidance of state and local authorities.”

“The way we conduct the census is the vast majority are going to self-respond,” he said, noting “but when it comes to completing the census, there is that door-to-door counting of households that have not responded. We’re monitoring this on an hourly, daily basis in terms of moving forward.”

The Census Bureau has also dipped into a $2 million contingency fund to do more advertising to get their message out, said Ali Ahmad, associate director of communications at the Census Bureau.

“The U.S. Census Bureau is actively working with contractors to update, expand and upgrade its campaign in line with the evolving situation,” Ahmad said.

The 2020 Census sent out census questionnaires (or letters asking households to respond online) March 12-20 to each home in the country and as of Friday morning, 18.6 million households have responded, according to Albert E. Fontenot Jr., associate director for Decennial Census Programs.

Each home can respond online (at http://2020census.gov/), by phone or by mail.

The 2020 Census counts every person living in the United States and five U.S. territories. The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and your community. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data.

With billions of dollars in federal funding being apportioned each year based on decennial census results, an accurate, complete count is crucial to county governments and all residents.

During the pause in field operations, the Census Bureau will continue to evaluate all 2020 Census operations. 

Here’s a timeline of what to expect:

  1. March 16-24: Households will receive a second reminder letter to participate in the census.
  2. March 26-April 3: Households will receive a reminder postcard to respond.
  3. April 8-16: Households will receive a third reminder letter and paper questionnaire.
  4. April 20-27: A final reminder postcard before census enumerators follow up in person. 

In late May, census takers around the nation will begin visiting households that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census to help complete the count. 



Tips from WGU Texas - Part of Western Governors University

  • 25 March 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2460

Coronavirus. COVID-19. It seems to be the only thing we read about lately! Unfortunately it’s a prevalent reality for most people in the United States as governments and organizations work to keep people safe. 

Many schools have moved to online education around the US, and similarly many offices are telling employees to work from home until further notice. Courses at WGU have always been online, so most students will have no interruptions to their WGU courses. But for many young children who are accustomed to going to school, traditional university students, and employees, the prospect of now working from home is nerve wracking.

Even if you aren’t worried about working or doing schooling from home during the COVID-19 situation, these principles are still incredibly important as you work or study at home. For WGU students or those who aren’t attending WGU, there will likely be a time when you need to work or study at home. This guide can help! There are many things you can do to be as effective as possible when working or studying at home. Here are 5 tips to help you as you transition to working and learning in your home.

1. Set a schedule.

When you’re at home, it’s easy to sleep in, lounge around, and not get a good jump on the day. This can leave you feeling frazzled and frustrated later in the afternoon and evening. When you know you’re going to be working or studying at home, a schedule can be your best friend. Set the time that you’re going to get up in the morning, and a rough outline of when you’d like to get work done, when you’ll take breaks, etc. This is also very important for children who are at home doing schoolwork—when they understand their routine they know what they have to look forward to and when they can expect snacks and a break. For children and adults alike, a schedule will help you be better and more effective when you do work and school work from home.

Williamson County Closing Offices to the Public Starting Thursday, March 19

Media Release from the Williamson County Public Information Office

  • 19 March 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2299

Williamson County Closing Offices to the Public Starting Thursday, March 19

March 19, 2020 (Williamson County, TX) -- Williamson County is taking extra preventative measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 with the goal of continuing essential county operations. Starting at noon on Thursday, March 19, 2020, Williamson County will close non-essential county offices to the public through Monday, May 11, 2020. Please note, these offices will serve the public and continue county operations by using technology, phones, email, mail, and drop-boxes as needed. 

The first round of closures starting at noon, Thursday, March 19, includes: 

Georgetown Tax Office, 904 S. Main St., Georgetown

Georgetown Annex, 100 Wilco Way, Georgetown

Cedar Park Annex, 350 Discovery Blvd, Cedar Park

J.B. and Hallie Jester Annex, 1825 Old Settlers Blvd., Round Rock

Taylor Annex, 412 Vance St., Taylor

Williamson County Justice of the Peace Pct. 4 Office, 211 W. 6th St., Taylor

Historic Courthouse, 710 S. Main St., Georgetown

Internal Audit Offices, 901 S. Austin Ave., Georgetown

Commissioner Pct. 4 Office, 321 Ed Schmidt Blvd, Hutto 

Expo Center, 5350 Bill Pickett Trail, Taylor

North Campus buildings, 3189 S.E. Inner Loop, Georgetown

Central Maintenance Facility, 3151 S. E. Inner Loop, Georgetown

Parks and Recreation Admin., 219 Perry Mayfield, Leander

Road and Bridge Facility, 3151 S.E. Inner Loop, Georgetown

Inner Loop Annex, 301 S.E. Inner Loop, Georgetown

Williamson Museum, 716 S. Austin Ave., Georgetown

Beginning Friday, March 20, 2020, through Monday, May 11, 2020, the Williamson County Justice Center, 405 MLK, Georgetown, will remain open only for required judicial activities with some changes to building procedures. Any person entering the building will have their temperature taken by a bailiff, as well as the normal screening. If a person is found to have a temperature of 100.4 degrees or more, that person will not be allowed in the building. Please prepare to fill out an information sheet as part of these new procedures. Jury trials have been cancelled until Monday, May 11, 2020. 

Williamson County’s priority is to provide continuity of operations of essential county services while maintaining social distancing practices. We appreciate the public’s support and patience as we modify procedures and reallocate resources in order to better adjust to this fluid situation. 

For more information on closures and updates on our COVID-19 response, please visit www.wilco.org/COVID-19. A call center is available for questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 512-943-1660.

Frequent 911 Calls Reduced While Patient Care Improves

Oped by Commissioner Cook

  • 19 March 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2329

Note: The CHP does not take referrals from the public.

To address the frequent 911 calls by people who did not require emergency care, Williamson County created Community Health Paramedicine.

CHP’s mission was to reduce non-emergency ambulance usage and hospital admissions by working with those who were calling 911 too often, and sometimes daily.

Paramedics with CHP are trained to evaluate the situation before directing frequent EMS callers to more appropriate resources.

They also periodically check on patients to ensure they are using their medicines properly.

Many CHP clients have mental health needs in addition to physical problems and long prescription lists.  It is a team effort with CHP, the Williamson County Mobile Outreach Team and various community partners. 

For example, an elderly man was calling EMS frequently and began calling daily after being discharged from an emergency room last year. He was experiencing memory problems and mental health issues.

He lived alone in a rural part of Williamson County, with little family support. His memory loss was contributing to his anxiety about living alone. He was unable to recall he recently had visited the emergency room and been declared medically stable.

CHP coordinated with the elderly patient, his family, neighbors, caregivers, Meals on Wheels, and the Williamson County and Cities Health District to connect him to services.

Based on a patient’s needs, CHP staff provide medication education, evaluate the home environment for fall risks and prevention, offer nutrition education for specific health conditions, and advocate for the patient with mental health and health care providers.

 “We have three employees in the program who together have many years of experience which contributes to the success of the program. They are able to connect with patients and put them at ease to get to the root cause of their issues,” said Williamson County EMS Director Mike Knipstein.

You count, so be counted

Oped by Commissioner Cook

  • 20 February 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2604

Atatending the Williamson County Complete Count Committee Kick-off on Feb. 5, 2020, were (from left) Commissioner Cook, Hutto Mayor Doug Gaul, Taylor Mayor Brandt Rydell, Cedar Park Mayor Corbin Van Arsdale, Bartlett Mayor Landry Pack, Jarrell Mayor Larry Bush, Granger Mayor Trevor Cheatheam, Round Rock City Council Member Will Peckham, Florence Mayor Mary Condon, and County Judge Bill Gravell.

This is the first time ever that we can respond to the census online.

The U.S. Constitution requires the U.S. Census Bureau to count every resident living in the country every 10 years. Between March 12 and July 31, 95% of U.S. households will receive an invitation in the mail to complete the 2020 Census.

Depending on how likely your area is to respond electronically, you’ll receive either an invitation to respond online or by phone, or an invitation with a paper questionnaire.

Households not responding will be mailed reminders. Then between May and August, census takers will visit households that have not yet self-responded.

A sample questionnaire can be found at http://tinyurl.com/yxlmq2dh .


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