JERSEY CITY, NJ - In her role as Chief of Hudson County’s Division of Planning, Francesca Giarratana has long played a part in “counting the numbers” and helping direct resources for important projects across all 12 municipalities.
While even under the COVID-19 public health crisis the work of her team has not slowed, there are other numbers that have also kept her attention since April 1. In fact, when it comes Census 2020, Girratana and her compact team have drawn up, implemented, redrawn, and implemented again, efforts to make sure that when counting is done, Hudson County’s population, as far as the federal government is concerned, is accurate.
“We knew going into this that getting a complete count would be a challenge, and we also knew how important it was that we rose up to that challenge and left no stone unturned in making sure that all our residents respond to Census 2020,” Giarratana told TAPinto. “What we couldn’t have forecast was the onslaught of a global pandemic just as counting was set to begin.”
With stay at home orders and social distancing protocols in place the vast majority of person to person outreach that was planned has had to be postponed, leading to an expanded effort to encourage residents to respond to the census online. And, to a degree, she said, that’s been successful.
“From a glass half full perspective we now stand at just over 53% of Hudson County’s households being counted, Giarratna offered. “However.” she continued, “that means that nearly half of our neighbors haven’t been, and that’s something we need, and will continue to, work on.”
With local businesses opening back up, even if in a more limited way, Giarratana said that they hope to increase awareness through a poster campaign as well as by giving out shopping bags that promote the count as being safe, convenient, and important. Residents will also started seeing a more visible Census presence as community events, such as farmers markets and outdoor dining, become more commonplace.
Staying focused on the positive, as seems to be her nature, Giarratana concluded by saying that the pandemic has granted communities more time to get counted, with efforts now expected to continue through October. Until then, she added, the quickest way to be counted is by clicking here.
“We also know more than ever how important getting an accurate count is,” she said, pointing to emergency response, health care planning and delivery, and education as some of the areas that rely on population figures for funding allotments. “In past counts perhaps we have become too complacent, not seeing right in front of us why the census matters. COVID-19 has changed that, perhaps offering one bright light in what has been an otherwise gloomy few months.”