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Pete’s Periódico: The Census is Here, Shape Your Future

Originally published on March 10, 2020. 

There were 28,995,881 people living in Texas in 2019––or at least we think so. That was the estimated population projected from the 2010 U.S. Census, an official count of our population as a country and state. Now it’s time to count again.
Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the Census occurs every 10 years. Participating in the Census means you are participating in your future: the official population given by the Census impacts federal funding amounts, school district populations, Texas Congressional delegation size, and more.
During the last two weeks of March, you will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail at your household. The notice will give detailed information how you and your family can respond to the Census online, by phone, or by mail. By April 1––National Census Day––every home should have received an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census.
Information reported to the Census is safe and secure. By law, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your family, your business, or your immigration status. We need every Texan to participate in the Census. This is the time to shape your future. If you have questions, please visit the U.S. Census website: https://2020census.gov/
As populations change, so must legislative representation. New legislative districts for Congress, Texas House, Texas Senate, and more will be redrawn during the 87th Legislative Session beginning in January 2021 following the Census count. But the work begins now. The Texas Senate Redistricting Committee will host a series of field hearings, coming directly to communities across this state.
Unfortunately, the initial hearings planned for late March are being rescheduled due to public health risks associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19). As a member of the Committee, I urge all Senate District 19 constituents to participate by attending a future Redistricting Committee hearing or otherwise contacting my office to share your comments and concerns.
Texas is not standing idly by on coronavirus. Our state and local leadership is facing the threat head-on, with six public health labs ready to perform COVID-19 tests in Austin, Houston, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, and Lubbock. The remaining four labs in Tyler, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Harlingen will have testing capabilities very soon.
The state’s public health lab network will be able to test over 125 patients per day once the entire network is equipped. The ability to provide testing in Texas will help shorten the time for healthcare providers to receive test results and public health officials to take appropriate steps.
As Texas does everything in its power to stop the spread of coronavirus, so can you. I encourage all Texans follow the recommended Texas Health and Human Services practices to prevent coronavirus: Wash your hands often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds––especially before eating or after using the restroom. If soap is not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick. Always cover your cough or sneeze; clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. If you feel sick, please consult a doctor and stay home if able.
If you have any questions, I encourage you to contact the following state and federal agencies. Texas Department of State Health Services can be reached via phone at 1-877-570-9779 or email at coronavirus@dshs.texas.gov. More information can be found at the following website: https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus/. A complete list of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19) local health entities can found at the following website: https://dshs.texas.gov/regions/2019-nCoV-Local-Health-Entities/. Information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention can be found at the following website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/.
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