Remember to respond to U.S. Census

Sen. Bill Coleman State Sen. District 10

Last Thursday, we observed a statewide Day of Prayer for our state and nation. Like in other times of crisis, citizens are stepping up to show the world the Oklahoma Standard.

I hear stories of healthcare employees working 80-plus hours and putting their own health at risk to help those in need. Our law enforcement and first responders are facing even more danger on the streets to keep our communities safe and healthy. Truckers are driving long hours to get food and other essentials to stores and businesses. Grocery store employees are working through the night, risking their health, stocking shelves to make sure their communities have enough food and other necessities. Government employees are also working hard to continue providing vital services to citizens at the local, county, state and federal levels. Our Oklahoma National Guardsmen are stepping up to help deliver medical supplies and ensure our healthcare facilities have what they need to continue fighting this invisible enemy.

I have been so touched by Oklahomans’ kindness and generosity. Organizations and schools are donating medical supplies to hospitals and nursing homes. Manufacturers are shifting their focus to make medical supplies. Nonprofits and individuals are sewing masks. Distilleries and other businesses have stopped their normal work to begin making hand sanitizer.

Instead of focusing on partisan politics and negativity, our country is becoming unified in order to crush this virus. Americans have had to come together many times through our country’s history, including times of war, depression and natural disasters. I’m so proud to be an American, but even more so an Oklahoman! Thank you to everyone who is playing a role in keeping our economy going, helping those who are sick and those who have been negatively impacted by this horrible illness.

Small businesses are the backbone of our state’s economy. If your business has been hurt by the COVID-19 outbreak, the state Department of Commerce will be holding teleconferences about the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan application and program on Tues., March 31, from 2-3 p.m. and Thurs., April 2, from 2-3 p.m. You can register at www.okcommerce.gov.

Again, if you have questions about any of Oklahoma’s resources or programs regarding this health crisis, please visit COVIDresources.ok.gov or call our state COVID-19 call center at 211.

The Senate and our staff have been working from home this past week. Thank goodness for technology, as we’ve had so many teleconferences and phone conferences. But work must continue. Besides work on the budget, leadership has also asked both caucuses to go through all their active bills and pick out the ones that are critical for the state in the coming year and must be addressed before we adjourn.

The Senate will remain closed through Friday, April 3. We should have more information on budget negotiations and other legislative matters next week. Be watching our website (www.oksenate.gov) and social media pages for updates. Facebook – Oklahoma State Senate. Instagram @OKSENATEINFO.

In closing, please don’t forget to fill out your 2020 Census questionnaire. You should have received information in the mail to fill out the survey online. If you haven’t gotten anything, call the Census hotline at 1-844-467-2020. It’s toll-free and open daily from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Nearly 25% of Oklahomans didn’t complete their 2010 Census, which caused the state to lose billions of dollars in federal funding. Every individual counted in the Census will get the state an estimated $17,000 in vital federal funding for healthcare, transportation, education, housing, nutrition and other important social services. It’s around ten questions and takes less than five minutes. It also determines our congressional representation.

Only one person per household needs to fill out the form. You’ll be asked to list everyone living in your home to ensure all citizens, including children, are counted. If you have elderly or disabled friends or family who might need help with their questionnaire, please reach out to them to make sure they are counted.

Again, you can participate online and by phone. If you haven’t filled yours out by April 1, you’ll get a paper copy to fill out and mail back.

I’ve been working from home but am checking emails and phone messages often. If you need anything, you can reach me at (405) 521-5581 or at Bill.Coleman@oksenate.gov.