BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ As of this week, Bernards Township was number one in being compliant in returning their U.S. Census forms among all of Somerset County's 26 municipalities, Township Administrator Pat Monaco reported.

About eighty percent of Bernards Township households have filled out and filed their 2020 census forms, Monaco told the Township Committee at Tuesday's meeting.

Even so, Monaco said the township's residents "have a way to go."

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The 2020 U.S. Census is underway now. Citizens can respond by email, mail, or by phone to the census count, which is held on a national level once every 10 years.

According to the U.S. Census webpage, in-person census takers were due to start follow-up visits to homes that had not responded to previous notifications on the census, starting in July.

Census takers will wear masks and follow local public health guidelines when they visit homes, according to the webpage regarding in-person census takers. All census takers complete a virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing and other health and safety protocols before beginning their work in neighborhoods.

Census takers are hired from the area, and their goal is to include that everyone be counted in the 2020 Census. 

Census takers visiting homes must have a valid identification badge with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date.

One way in which census results are put to use is by helping to determine how billions of dollars in federal funding is allocated to states and communities each year.