Concern looms over accurate census data amid COVID-19 pandemic in Cook County

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CHICAGO — Despite the limitations posed by the COVID-19 outbreak, the push to get people in the Chicago area counted for the census did not let up Wednesday.

The concern is heightened by a suspension of door-to-door outreach efforts to keep social distancing practices in place.

“In the midst of this health crisis, we recognize the importance of these federal dollars. We must ensure everyone is counted so our communities can rebuild and recover from this crisis,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Community leaders said under-served and low income Latino neighborhoods often go undercounted.

“The latino community — historically — has been undercounted. So we’re taking steps to make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” said Cesar Nunez of Enlace Chicago.

Community leaders in Little Village got creative Wednesday when a small army of motorists who had decorated their vehicles with signs urging people to fill out their census forms.

“It’s important for the latino community. It’s important for low income communities, because the resources that are so necessary for us to be able thrive are largely distributed based on census numbers,” said Maria Fitzsimmons, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights.

About three of every four households in the United States will receive an invitation to complete the census online or by phone.

Those who refuse to participate in the census can be fined, according to federal statutes.

The census deadline has been extended to August 14.

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