Census kiosks no longer available at libraries during COVID-19 pandemic; advocates urge residents to respond online

March 19, 2020 /

Plans for public kiosks at all Kern County Library branches and during the 2020 Census have been suspended following the closing of all countywide branches between March 17th and April 13th in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jasmin LoBasso, marketing and promotions associate at Kern County Library said that although the kiosks will not be accessible during the closure, all branches will continue to offer free WiFi outside and within proximity of each building allowing for safe public access.

“If somebody doesn’t have internet, we have switched our WiFi on 24/7 while we are closed,” said LoBasso who also works with the Kern Complete Count Committee on census outreach. “People can park their car in the parking lot if they need access to the internet and not expose themselves to anyone in the public at this time.”

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This week the Kern Complete Count Committee (KCCC) also began urging all residents to fill out their census forms online, mail or phone.
“Let’s not let the fear of the current health crisis prevent anyone from answering the Census,” said the Kern Complete Count Committee in a news release. “A complete and accurate count is the most practical way to ensure our community receives its fair share of resources and political representation.”

LoBasso also mentioned the Census data can also help the community during emergencies, like Kern is seeing right now with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Census data is crucial to ensure our community receives its fair share of resources, especially during emergencies as it helps inform funding for federal disaster relief and public health personnel needs for communities,” she said.

Responding to the Census online, by mail or by phone can go a long way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. By doing this, Census interviewers won’t have to visit homes to collect data, the KCCC said in a press release.

Thanks to safe and easy WiFi access at your nearby Kern County Library branch, Census questionnaires can be completed within a few minutes of your arrival via your smartphone, tablet or laptop. Your participation will help to ensure an accurate and complete count. 

“If there’s anything we can offer the public that falls within the parameter of the county and state, then we’re going to try and offer it,” LoBasso said. “I think creating community within the digital atmosphere is really important right now.

Fill out your Census questionnaire online at Census.gov, by phone (844-330-2020), or by mail (mail-in questionnaire and reminders have already been sent to residences.)

For updates, visit the Kern County Library COVID-19 closure resource page: http://www.kerncountylibrary.org/2860-2/ and Kerncounts.org.

Kern Sol News is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to southkernsol.org.

Matt Munoz

Matt Munoz is Project Coordinator and Reporter at Kern Sol News. He may be reached at matt@southkernsol.org.