With five days to go before the 2020 Census was scheduled to end, Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace and other officials caravanned across the city Friday in a final push to get every resident counted.
The nationwide tally, however, could get extended to its original Oct. 31 deadline as the result of a court order.
A federal judge in California issued a preliminary injunction Thursday requiring the Census Bureau to continue the count through Oct. 31, reversing the Trump administration’s plan to end it Wednesday, Sept. 30, a month early. The Justice Department said Friday that it intends to appeal.
Declaring Friday as “Census Emergency Day,” Sorace made five stops Friday afternoon in the city’s southeast and southwest quadrants to encourage everyone, particularly historically undercounted groups, such as people of color and immigrants, to participate in the census before it’s too late.
Sorace and others passed out Census water bottles and fans and got people counted.
For the past month, census takers have been knocking on doors of those who haven’t responded online, by phone or through the mail. But those self-response options remain available.
As of Thursday, 63.6% of Lancaster city households had self-responded, according to the Census Bureau website. That compares to a self-response rate of 77.3% for all of Lancaster County, the third best rate in Pennsylvania.
Nevertheless, Lancaster city’s response rate compares favorably to other cities in southcentral Pennsylvania: Lebanon, 60.6%; Coatesville, 54.8%; Reading, 54.3%; York, 52.8%; and Harrisburg, 48.1%.
In Lancaster County, Clay Township, at 86.9%, had the highest rate; Adamstown, at 60.4%, the lowest.
“An accurate 2020 Census count is crucial for Lancaster city and other Pennsylvania communities to receive our fair share of federal funding and representation,” Sorace said.
In joining Reading Mayor Eddie Moran on Thursday in an appeal on Facebook Live, Sorace said a complete count isn’t just about funding city operations.
“This is way more about access to health care, access to education transportation dollars and food security,” she said.