With deadline nearing, pandemic ongoing, Florida census reporting lags

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Fewer than six out of ten Floridians have filled out their census forms and the deadline to complete them is rapidly approaching.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made the count more difficult, but also more important than ever.

Florida is trailing the national response rate by nearly three percentage points.

“We are seeing low census return rates especially in our communities of color,” said Orlando State Rep. Anna V. Eskamani.

Marilyn Stephens, an assistant regional manager for the Census Bureau, said the numbers are a sign the state needs to do better.

“So Florida’s not pleased with where it is right now and that’s why we are working so hard on this push to get more households to self respond,” said Stephens.

The count is used to allocate congressional districts, but more importantly, it influences the allocation of funding.

“For infrastructure, health care, education,” said Stephens.