Stephen Thomas Leads Panel of Experts and Policymakers to Promote 2020 Census
Stephen Thomas, a professor of health policy and management and director of the School of Public Health's Center for Health Equity, led the virtual panel, “Count MD In: The Importance of the 2020 Census Amid COVID-19” on Monday, June 22.
The event was presented by the University of Maryland Office of Community Engagement and included Maryland State Delegate, Joseline Pena-Melnyk; Maryland Department of Planning Secretary of Planning Robert McCord; Prince George’s County Complete Count Committee Census 2020 Outreach Coordinator Jordan Baucom Colbert; Carroll County Department of Planning Director Lynda Eisenberg; US Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Julius Maina; UMD Office of Community Engagement Director Gloria Aparicio-Blackwell; and singer/musician Tiffany Blossom.
“All of the dynamics in the street show us why the census is important,” said Dr. Thomas. “It determines how much resources you have on the ground to serve the needs of the people and COVID-19 has exposed the gaps in our safety net.”
The panel focused on the impact of COVID-19 on Latinx and African-American communities which have had a disproportionate number of cases due to systems of socio-economic and health disparities. Gloria Aparicio-Blackwell referenced lower than ideal response rates for the 2010 census as one reason why departments of health in these communities received less funding to fight COVID-19 and address other community challenges. She urged individuals to complete the census as a way to strengthen and give back to their communities.
The panelists also addressed some of the concerns that vulnerable communities such as undocumented immigrants, the elderly and those who do not speak English might have about the census. They noted that the census will not ask about your citizenship status or your social security number, that the census is available in 59 languages and that the census can be completed online, over the phone, or by mail.
Visit 2020Census.gov to complete the census.