A loud and lively motorcade made its way from East Rome, through downtown and into West Rome on Friday, reminding folks about the importance of being counted.

The caravan of vehicles included private cars, city and county vehicles as well as a Rome Fire Department truck with lights and horns alerting everyone to its presence and it was all led be a police escort complete with flashing blue lights.

The reason for the festive motorcade is a serious one. The community could benefit from federal dollars that would come to us if our census numbers demanded it. But that means that Rome and Floyd County residents need to fill out their census forms either by mail, online or over the phone.

The motorcade was the brainchild of the local Complete County Committee.

“It’s just a reminder to folks that it’s easy and safe to complete their census survey and be counted,” said City Manager Sammy Rich. “What we’ve seen is that the reporting percentage for the county is low. We assume people are distracted because of the pandemic but our goal is to get that percentage up and this is one way of getting the word out.”

According to 2020census.gov, the reporting percentage for Floyd County is 57.3%. Officials would like to see that number go up. Bartow County is at 60.1%, Polk County is at 45.1% and the entire state of Georgia is at 55.4%.

Census results affect planning and funding for education including programs such as Head Start, Pell Grants, school lunches, rural education, adult education, and grants for preschool special education. The results also affect planning and funding for infrastructure including programs for highway planning and construction, Section 8 housing, federal transit, community development, and rural water and waste disposal systems.

In addition, census results also affect planning and funding for healthcare including programs such as Medicaid, Medicare Part B, State Children’s Health Insurance, and the prevention and treatment of substance abuse.

“If as a community we’re leaving money on the table, then we’ve got to do better,” Rich said.

And it’s not too late to be counted. Rome and Floyd County residents can fill out their census forms in three ways. Most households were mailed a form. Those can be completed in mere minutes and put in the mail. But the form can also be filled out online at 2020census.gov or even over the phone by calling 844-330-2020. All methods take only a few minutes to complete.

Officials said especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s more important than ever to make sure the community gets all the federal dollars it can. And simply filling out and submitting your household’s information in the census can make that happen.

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