Some state and local officials in areas with diverse, hard-to-count populations reacted with dismay.
“Oh God,” said Shameka S. Reynolds, the mayor of Lithonia, Ga. “Covid-19 is on the rise in our county, and it was already hard, to be honest with you, in previous years. It was hard trying to get people to get their mailings in and do it.”
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 4, 2020
I have antibodies. Am I now immune?
- As of right now, that seems likely, for at least several months. There have been frightening accounts of people suffering what seems to be a second bout of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have a drawn-out course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may last in the body only two to three months, which may seem worrisome, but that’s perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it’s highly unlikely that it would be possible in a short window of time from initial infection or make people sicker the second time.
I’m a small-business owner. Can I get relief?
- The stimulus bills enacted in March offer help for the millions of American small businesses. Those eligible for aid are businesses and nonprofit organizations with fewer than 500 workers, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The help being offered, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. But lots of folks have not yet seen payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting on money they don’t know how to use. Many small-business owners are getting less than they expected or not hearing anything at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
Should I refinance my mortgage?
- It could be a good idea, because mortgage rates have never been lower. Refinancing requests have pushed mortgage applications to some of the highest levels since 2008, so be prepared to get in line. But defaults are also up, so if you’re thinking about buying a home, be aware that some lenders have tightened their standards.
What is school going to look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, requiring the grind of online learning, makeshift child care and stunted workdays to continue. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on July 13, that instruction will be remote-only in the fall, citing concerns that surging coronavirus infections in their areas pose too dire a risk for students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll some 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution won’t be an all-or-nothing approach. Many systems, including the nation’s largest, New York City, are devising hybrid plans that involve spending some days in classrooms and other days online. There’s no national policy on this yet, so check with your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
Ms. Reynolds, who became mayor of the small, majority-Black suburban city this year, said about 44 percent of residents had responded to the census. “Now we no longer have until October, so it’s shrinking the time, and it’s kind of messing me up,” she said. “Now we’ve got to get creative.”
Lithonia is in DeKalb County, a sprawling expanse of 760,000 people east of Atlanta that is typical of the places that are hardest to get an accurate population count. The local chamber of commerce says it is the most ethnically diverse county in the Southeast, with at least 64 languages spoken.
The stakes are tremendous: The county’s chief executive, Michael Thurmond, has estimated that with a full count, DeKalb County could receive $1.8 billion per year in federal funding over the next 10 years. A serious undercount could leave billions of dollars on the table for public safety, public health, immunizations, Head Start programs, summer jobs programs and more.
“It’s just disheartening,” Larry Johnson, a DeKalb County commissioner, said on Tuesday. All three officials are Democrats.
The Census Bureau said in its announcement that it planned to mount “a robust field data collection operation” to meet the new deadline, and that it would be able to complete the 2020 census in a short time “without sacrificing completeness.” Beyond saying it would hire more people and give its army of door-knockers awards for extra work, it has offered few details of how it plans to meet the new goal.