In these difficult times, we need to remember to keep up the count.
We're not talking about counting how many of your neighbors are congregating during the stay-at-home order. We're talking about the 2020 Census.
The Census happens every decade, and it's one event that's not being canceled due to the current pandemic.
April 1 was Census Day, the day the Census counts where people live.
So far, Missouri has counted a higher percent (40.5) than the nation overall (38.4). Cole County has done even better, reaching 43 percent at last count.
Credit that to local, county and state officials who have worked diligently to get the word out.
"Nearly every day, people in Missouri ask me what they can do to assist during this COVID-19 crisis," Gov. Mike Parson said in a statement. "One of the easiest things people can do to help is to make sure they respond to the 2020 Census."
Mayor Carrie Tergin and members of the local Complete Count Committee are using social media and other publicity means to promote filling out Census forms.
The Census forms, with nine questions, should arrive in the mail April 8-16 for those who haven't already responded by email or phone.
You can fill out your Census response online for the first time ever at 2020Census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020 or by mail.
Answering Census questions is safe. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share answers with anyone, even another government agency.
Normally, after 45 days, the Census would start sending out workers to check with people who haven't sent in their Census forms. However, Census officials have suspended field operations until April 15 in response to the COVID-19 emergency.
The Census is important because it helps to determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal fund and divided geographically. The pandemic will make federal budgets even more challenging, so it's important Cole County — and Missouri — are well-represented.
Answering the questions is quick and easy, so make sure you take the time to be counted.