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Why Rich New Yorkers Are Causing Big Problems for the Census Why Rich New Yorkers Are Causing Big Problems for the Census
(1 day later)
When city officials took on the herculean task of getting every New York City household to fill out the census, an eat-your-vegetables exercise that provides millions in federal aid to low-income residents, they didn’t expect the Upper East Side to pose much of a problem.When city officials took on the herculean task of getting every New York City household to fill out the census, an eat-your-vegetables exercise that provides millions in federal aid to low-income residents, they didn’t expect the Upper East Side to pose much of a problem.
But the coronavirus has upended census-takers’ best-laid plans. And that may have serious financial implications for the city.But the coronavirus has upended census-takers’ best-laid plans. And that may have serious financial implications for the city.
Only 46 percent of Upper East Side households have filled out their census forms, according to a June 25 report circulated by the Department of City Planning’s chief demographer, Joseph J. Salvo — well below the neighborhood’s final response rate in 2010, and short of the current citywide rate of almost 53 percent.Only 46 percent of Upper East Side households have filled out their census forms, according to a June 25 report circulated by the Department of City Planning’s chief demographer, Joseph J. Salvo — well below the neighborhood’s final response rate in 2010, and short of the current citywide rate of almost 53 percent.
The reason?The reason?
“They’re not here,” said Liz Krueger, a Democratic state senator, referring to her constituents in Midtown and the Upper East Side. “No one’s here.”“They’re not here,” said Liz Krueger, a Democratic state senator, referring to her constituents in Midtown and the Upper East Side. “No one’s here.”
Many New Yorkers who had the wherewithal to leave the city did so, just as the census was getting under way this spring. Thinned-out neighborhoods stopped producing as much garbage. Mail-forwarding requests shot through the roof.Many New Yorkers who had the wherewithal to leave the city did so, just as the census was getting under way this spring. Thinned-out neighborhoods stopped producing as much garbage. Mail-forwarding requests shot through the roof.
And for census officials, wealthier neighborhoods in Manhattan are now unexpectedly proving some of the hardest to reach.And for census officials, wealthier neighborhoods in Manhattan are now unexpectedly proving some of the hardest to reach.
Only about 38 percent of households in Midtown Manhattan have filled out their census forms — the second-worst response rate in all of New York City, after North Corona, Queens, which is at about 37 percent. The rate is only slightly better in the area encompassing SoHo, Tribeca, Civic Center and Little Italy, which is home to wealthy residents as well as many college students; those tracts have response rates of about 46 percent.Only about 38 percent of households in Midtown Manhattan have filled out their census forms — the second-worst response rate in all of New York City, after North Corona, Queens, which is at about 37 percent. The rate is only slightly better in the area encompassing SoHo, Tribeca, Civic Center and Little Italy, which is home to wealthy residents as well as many college students; those tracts have response rates of about 46 percent.
The noncompliance in these communities has stunned people like Melva M. Miller, who signed on in December 2018 to spearhead census outreach efforts for the Association for a Better New York, a real estate-backed civic group. Little in her decades of political experience led her to believe wealthy Manhattan neighborhoods would pose a problem.The noncompliance in these communities has stunned people like Melva M. Miller, who signed on in December 2018 to spearhead census outreach efforts for the Association for a Better New York, a real estate-backed civic group. Little in her decades of political experience led her to believe wealthy Manhattan neighborhoods would pose a problem.
Then Covid-19 hit.Then Covid-19 hit.
“When we started to look at the numbers come in, at the very beginning of the pandemic, I think all of us working on census outreach were very shocked and stunned,” Ms. Miller said.“When we started to look at the numbers come in, at the very beginning of the pandemic, I think all of us working on census outreach were very shocked and stunned,” Ms. Miller said.
Some of these census tracts include the city’s most exclusive stretches of real estate, like the Fifth Avenue corridor between 70th and 35th Streets, which the planning department said was “home to some of the lowest levels of self-response in the city.”Some of these census tracts include the city’s most exclusive stretches of real estate, like the Fifth Avenue corridor between 70th and 35th Streets, which the planning department said was “home to some of the lowest levels of self-response in the city.”
Even if New Yorkers have asked the Postal Service to forward mail to their second homes, census forms are addressed to the household, not the individual, which — unless New Yorkers pay for premium forwarding — prevents the post office from including them with the forwarded mail.Even if New Yorkers have asked the Postal Service to forward mail to their second homes, census forms are addressed to the household, not the individual, which — unless New Yorkers pay for premium forwarding — prevents the post office from including them with the forwarded mail.
Officials hope that many of the coronavirus evacuees will return by the end of October, the new extended deadline for final responses to the census. But with Manhattan parents now enrolling children in schools outside the city, it is not clear that the evacuees will return to New York City in time.Officials hope that many of the coronavirus evacuees will return by the end of October, the new extended deadline for final responses to the census. But with Manhattan parents now enrolling children in schools outside the city, it is not clear that the evacuees will return to New York City in time.
“New Yorkers that have left the city and that then are not doing their civic duty and filling the census out are truly hurting our city — not just this year but for 10 years to come,” said Julie Menin, the director of NYC Census 2020.“New Yorkers that have left the city and that then are not doing their civic duty and filling the census out are truly hurting our city — not just this year but for 10 years to come,” said Julie Menin, the director of NYC Census 2020.
“It is one of the single worst ways that you can act in New York’s greatest time of need,” she added.“It is one of the single worst ways that you can act in New York’s greatest time of need,” she added.
The census is an esoteric exercise with real world implications.The census is an esoteric exercise with real world implications.
It is used to distribute more than $1.5 trillion in federal funding, according to a recent report by the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform and Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.It is used to distribute more than $1.5 trillion in federal funding, according to a recent report by the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform and Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
“An incomplete count could cost the city its fair share of that funding,” the report found. “Missing just one person in the city could reduce education funding by $2,295, and job training by $281.”“An incomplete count could cost the city its fair share of that funding,” the report found. “Missing just one person in the city could reduce education funding by $2,295, and job training by $281.”
By the city’s estimate, it receives some $1 billion a year in federal aid that is based in, or guided by, census data. That funding comes in the form of education funding for low-income students and children with disabilities, child care funding and rental aid for low-income families; any loss in federal funding would be critical at a time when the pandemic has caused the city’s revenues to plummet.By the city’s estimate, it receives some $1 billion a year in federal aid that is based in, or guided by, census data. That funding comes in the form of education funding for low-income students and children with disabilities, child care funding and rental aid for low-income families; any loss in federal funding would be critical at a time when the pandemic has caused the city’s revenues to plummet.
Updated July 7, 2020
The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests. This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.
Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.
Scientists around the country have tried to identify everyday materials that do a good job of filtering microscopic particles. In recent tests, HEPA furnace filters scored high, as did vacuum cleaner bags, fabric similar to flannel pajamas and those of 600-count pillowcases. Other materials tested included layered coffee filters and scarves and bandannas. These scored lower, but still captured a small percentage of particles.
A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.
The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.
The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.
So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.
A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.
If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)
If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
The census has electoral repercussions, too. Officials fear a potential undercount, coupled with New York’s declining population, could cost the state two congressional seats.The census has electoral repercussions, too. Officials fear a potential undercount, coupled with New York’s declining population, could cost the state two congressional seats.
New York City officials say it’s unfair, however, to compare the city’s current response rates to 2010, because there was no global pandemic, and this year’s exercise will have a longer period to collect questionnaires. Also, the U.S. Census Bureau has yet to massage these self-response rates to account for vacant apartments, which is likely to send the numbers higher.New York City officials say it’s unfair, however, to compare the city’s current response rates to 2010, because there was no global pandemic, and this year’s exercise will have a longer period to collect questionnaires. Also, the U.S. Census Bureau has yet to massage these self-response rates to account for vacant apartments, which is likely to send the numbers higher.
All that being said, it seems clear that the coronavirus-driven flight from New York has affected the census response rate; the Upper East Side, for example, had a nearly 71 percent self-response rate in 2010, significantly higher than the citywide average of about 62 percent.All that being said, it seems clear that the coronavirus-driven flight from New York has affected the census response rate; the Upper East Side, for example, had a nearly 71 percent self-response rate in 2010, significantly higher than the citywide average of about 62 percent.
Despite the challenges of this year’s census versus one 10 years ago, “the 2010 rate is the best that is publicly available” to use as a benchmark at this time, said Steven Romalewski, director of the City University of New York Mapping Service, which develops maps for census stakeholders.Despite the challenges of this year’s census versus one 10 years ago, “the 2010 rate is the best that is publicly available” to use as a benchmark at this time, said Steven Romalewski, director of the City University of New York Mapping Service, which develops maps for census stakeholders.
The pandemic has prompted census outreach workers to adjust their tactics, especially in trying to reach undocumented immigrants and residents in illegal housing, who may be fearful of sharing information with the government. In the heavily immigrant neighborhoods of North Corona and East Elmhurst, outreach workers have approached New Yorkers while they wait in lines at food distribution sites, for example.The pandemic has prompted census outreach workers to adjust their tactics, especially in trying to reach undocumented immigrants and residents in illegal housing, who may be fearful of sharing information with the government. In the heavily immigrant neighborhoods of North Corona and East Elmhurst, outreach workers have approached New Yorkers while they wait in lines at food distribution sites, for example.
Reaching well-resourced Manhattan residents who have skipped out on the city to who knows where is “a harder nut to crack,” Ms. Miller said.Reaching well-resourced Manhattan residents who have skipped out on the city to who knows where is “a harder nut to crack,” Ms. Miller said.
It’s not necessarily for want of trying.It’s not necessarily for want of trying.
Census officials have so far spent $6.3 million on advertising, including on television ads that run in the tristate region, including Long Island, to which Ms. Krueger said she suspected that many of her absent constituents have decamped.Census officials have so far spent $6.3 million on advertising, including on television ads that run in the tristate region, including Long Island, to which Ms. Krueger said she suspected that many of her absent constituents have decamped.
When the coronavirus hit, Ms. Menin’s team pulled a $1.3 million advertising campaign that was to run in the suddenly empty subway system, and redirected it to television and digital advertising. Workers are phone banking and text messaging.When the coronavirus hit, Ms. Menin’s team pulled a $1.3 million advertising campaign that was to run in the suddenly empty subway system, and redirected it to television and digital advertising. Workers are phone banking and text messaging.
Reaching residents by mail is key, because the data produced by New Yorkers who fill out census forms themselves is considered significantly better than that produced by canvassers, who often rely on information provided them by well-intentioned, if ill-informed, neighbors and doormen, and that produced by a statistical guesswork process called “imputation.” To rely on those methods is to risk undercounting New York City residents.Reaching residents by mail is key, because the data produced by New Yorkers who fill out census forms themselves is considered significantly better than that produced by canvassers, who often rely on information provided them by well-intentioned, if ill-informed, neighbors and doormen, and that produced by a statistical guesswork process called “imputation.” To rely on those methods is to risk undercounting New York City residents.
“The census is going to be another victim of the pandemic,” Ms. Krueger said. “I absolutely believe that. It’s going to really screw us. We’re going to lose congressional seats and money.”“The census is going to be another victim of the pandemic,” Ms. Krueger said. “I absolutely believe that. It’s going to really screw us. We’re going to lose congressional seats and money.”