The Los Angeles County Census Unit announced Tuesday that it has suspended its Questionnaire Action Kiosk (QAK) program until further notice, and will be asking people to answer the census primarily online for the first time ever. This is a response to public health guidance encouraging social distancing to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
“While ensuring a full count is vital to our communities, the top priority right now is protecting the health and safety of all L.A. County residents,” said Vanessa Gonzalez of the L.A. County Chief Executive office.
The QAK was the culmination of 18 months of planning. It was intended to help members of the public fill out their 2020 Census, securely access information, and provide assistance if needed. As a result of the cancellation, census efforts are moving more online than in person.
Due to COVID-19, the Census Bureau is asking the majority of people to answer the census online. One of the primary functions of the QAK was to help ease the transition for anyone who might have trouble navigating the form, or would prefer to do it over the phone.
According to the United States Census Bureau website, the census is used to determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding is allocated to be spent on key programs. The data is also used to provide useful information to business owners.
In addition, the information from the census determines how Congressional districts are divided, and how many electoral votes each state gets.
Although COVID-19 is preventing the use of the QAK on campus for now, PCC is planning to continue to be involved with the census.
“PCC will adapt to changing circumstances and promote the effort as much as possible,” said PCC spokesperson Alex Boekelheide. “Towards that end, beginning in late April, volunteers will be in the quad helping to raise awareness of the census, while Associated Students and club leaders have been asked to reach out however they can.”
By Boekelheide’s estimate, every person that is counted represents $2000 in federal funding every year. This means that for every person that does not fill out the census, $20,000 are lost every 10 years.