These are crazy times. Some of you are juggling your jobs as well as helping children through their virtual school day.

Some of you are health care workers – thank you so much for all you are doing. It’s impossible to find words to appropriately express our appreciation.

Some of us are not so busy. We’re filling our days cleaning out decades worth of tax returns or boxes of photos from the 1980s. That’s where I am, working through a long list of home projects. I am now up to the mid-1990s of financial records and tax forms. I’ve done some digging through old photos but I’ve still got a mountain to climb.

So, what was my pretense for not completing our census forms when I got the first notice from the federal government about three weeks ago? I had none, but still the task lingered on my desk.

It took a reminder postcard the other day to prod me into logging on to the Census Bureau website and get ours done. It only takes about five minutes, so really, no justification for my tardiness.

The 2020 census remains incredibly important. The state and federal governments use population counts to allocate funds for things like highway construction and education. And the biggest deal for us is our congressional count. We are very close to losing – or keeping – our eighth seat in the U.S. House. That’s huge for Minnesotans.

Census information is private. The U.S. Census Bureau is only allowed to use responses to produce statistics. They also can’t publicly release anyone’s response in a way that it would identify you or your household. So it’s safe for everyone to respond.

We are all required to participate. Each person deserves to be counted. If you have not yet gone online to complete your household’s forms (or complete and mail the paper form), do it right away!

One day, we will be moving beyond our current crisis. The census count will have a huge impact on the next decade’s politics and government, from the very local level all the way up to the top.

Don’t be like me and manufacture excuses. Get this thing done.

Peggy Bakken is a former executive editor and a columnist for APG-East Central Minnesota. Reactions welcome: peggy.bakken@apgecm.com.

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