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Washington County's census response rate is better than expected

Washington County's census response rate is better than expected

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FORT EDWARD — The towns of Putnam, Dresden and Fort Ann have had the lowest census response rates in Washington County.

The towns of Cambridge, Easton and White Creek have had the highest response rates.

On a whole, Washington County’s census response rate is 56%, just slightly below the state average of 57.1%.

Laura Oswald, the director of Washington County Economic Development, said the census response rates are satisfactory if not better than expected in light of the public health crisis.

“We think it a realistic goal to achieve a response rate in the upper 80s,” Oswald said. “With the Census 2020 delays and subsequent extension, this seems feasible.”

Census results determine how billions of dollars in federal funds are distributed for health clinics, school lunch programs, disaster recovery initiatives and other programs and services for the next 10 years.

County officials are still doing outreach to increase those response rates, Oswald told the Washington County Agriculture and Planning Committee last week.

A portable, retractable banner promoting the census is currently in the town of Fort Ann. The banner is put out and taken down daily.

“What I would like to do is circulate that banner around to other towns for those that are having lower response rates,” Oswald said.

Local enumeration efforts have been stalled because of COVID-19, which has affected outreach and education, Oswald said.

“Another key reason why one may see low response rates in Washington County may have to do with access to broadband,” she said in an email. “Extending broadband to our more rural areas is an ongoing priority.”

Census takers are in the process of being trained to do the door-to-door census, which should start at the end of July.

Gretta Hochsprung writes hometown news and covers Washington County. You can reach her at ghochsprung@poststar.com or 518-742-3206. Follow her on Twitter @GrettaHoch or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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