BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The 2020 national census has just about come and gone.
 
Bridgewater Township Councilman Michael Kirsch brought up the matter at the council’s meeting on March 30, one that was conducted remotely (audio only) due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
 
“Census Day is Wednesday,” he said of the deadline to complete the application that is sent every 10 years in the U.S. in order to measure the nation’s population.
 
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The census is also used to determine how federal funding is distributed to local communities. According to a U.S. Department of Commerce press release for this year, that figure is over $675 billion.
 
Council president Howard Norgalis said he planned to complete the census the following day.

 
Kirsch said this was the first time citizens could complete the census by using one of three methods — by phone, mail or online (census.gov). Those approaches were considered to be more cost-effective than the traditional, hit-or-miss method of census takers being physically sent door-to-door to obtain information.
 
Kirsch also said that this year’s census numbers could be impacted by COVID-19, such as where college students reside as of April 1. According to census.gov, college students "should be counted according to the residence criteria, which states they should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time."
 
As of March 15, more than 5 million individuals had responded online to the 2020 Census, per the census website. The planned completion date for data collection is July 31, although that date is considered to be flexible, especially in light of COVID-19 and its continuing, changing effects on society that has also invoked a shutdown of a number of entities deemed non-essential by the state.

 
As of March 30, the national census self-response rate for this year was 36.2 percent, as compared to 36.5 percent for New Jersey, as shown at census.gov. The self-response rate for both Bridgewater Township and Somerset County was listed as 46.5 percent.
 
According to "Municipalities Sorted by 2011-2020 Legislative District", from the New Jersey Department of State, the population of Bridgewater Township in 2010 was 44,464.
 
It was not stated if there will be extensions granted for completing the census due to COVID-19 considerations.
 
The Bridgewater council meetings for April 2 and April 6 have both been canceled. The next council meeting is scheduled for April 16, and is also expected to be conducted remotely.