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Efforts have been impacted negatively by coronavirus

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AZTEC — While the coronavirus pandemic has created a national health crisis, the U.S. Census Bureau is still trying to collect crucial data that will be used to determine federal funding for programs like school lunches.

Filling out the census every 10 years is required by law, and this is the first time the census is being conducted primarily online.

Last month, most San Juan County residents received mail containing a Census ID they could use to fill out the census.

Since people received the postcards, about 47% of people nationwide have filled out the census. Minnesota has the highest response rate — more than 56%.

Meanwhile, New Mexico lags behind the national rate. As of April 10, approximately 36% of New Mexicans had filled out the census.

The San Juan County response rate is lower than the overall state response rate. Only about 28% of San Juan County residents have filled out the census.

The participation rate is based on how many people who received the mail filled out the form or responded through a different manner, including phone.

The Navajo Nation currently has one of the lowest response rates in the country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, less than 1% of Navajo Nation residents have responded. The census efforts on Navajo Nation relied heavily on census workers going door to door. But the coronavirus put a halt to those efforts.

More: Census officials temporarily suspend some operations because of coronavirus outbreak

People who have post office boxes or who live on Navajo Nation may not have received the postcards in the mail. 

Even people who have not received a Census ID number in the mail can respond to the census online at my2020census.gov or by calling 844-330-2020. There are 59 language options for filling out the census via phone, including Diné and Spanish. 

More: Native American organizations, Navajo Nation urge census participation

The cities in San Juan County have had higher response rates than rural areas.

Farmington residents have the highest response rate — 42.9%. In one area of east Farmington, more than 57% of residents have filled out their census forms.

Nearly 38% of Aztec residents and more than 34% of Bloomfield residents have responded.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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