2020 Census

A file photo of an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident.

In the wake of low Census numbers, the Office of the Texas Secretary of State has awarded a contract to The Atkins Group of San Antonio to bolster Texas' 2020 Census response.

Texas has a 61.7% response rate as of Friday, and the final date to report looms closer on Sept. 30, a month earlier than previously announced.

Angelina County's response sits at 54.2% as of Friday with no growth in responses since Aug. 10.

DaVina Morris, coordinator of DETCOG Census Outreach Program, said her office had not received any information about the new contract or company yet but that COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines caused them to pivot from their initial game plan of having 12 county coordinators as "boots on the ground."

"They were hired as contractors to go out into the community to make face-to-face interactions (community events, parades, festivals, social events, etc.) promoting the Census," Morris said. "We had to come up with other ways to reach our hard-to-count areas here in rural Deep East Texas. With that being said, we have reached out to the Chambers of Commerce, school districts, co-ops, essential services and other community resources in the Deep East Texas who helped us with our 'Get Out The Count' efforts."

The Atkins Group has launched the Let's Count Texas campaign by issuing a call to action to all Texans to participate in the decennial count, according to a press release from Texas Secretary of State Ruth R. Hughs.

"This statewide campaign will target low-response areas to highlight the importance of participating in the 2020 Census and will reach Texans through multiple channels, including broadcast, print, digital and other creative messaging with the intent of informing the public and increasing response rates during the final stretch of the count," the press release states.

Morris said there are three ways community members can help with Census efforts — complete the Census today, remind family, friends, co-workers and others to complete their Census and share information.

The Census can be completed three ways: online at 2020census.gov, by phone at 1-844-2020 or by mail.

For more information on the Lets Count Texas campaign, visit LetsCountTexas.com or visit Lets Count Texas on Facebook and Instagram.

Grace Juarez's email address is grace.juarez@lufkindailynews.com.