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Census Day arrives with US almost paralyzed by coronavirus | News, Sports, Jobs

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A man wearing a mask walks past posters encouraging participation in the 2020 Census, Wednesday in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Census Day — the date used to determine where a person lives for the once-a-decade count — arrived Wednesday with a nation almost paralyzed by the spread of the coronavirus. But census officials vowed the job would be completed by its year-end deadline.

The virus’s spread forced the U.S. Census Bureau to suspend field operations for a month, from mid-March to mid-April, when the hiring process would be ramping up for up to 500,000 temporary census takers. The bureau has delayed the start of counts for the homeless and people living in group quarters like college dorms and nursing homes, and pushed back the head count’s deadline from the end of July to mid-August.

The Census Bureau is required by federal statute to send the president the counts that will be used to carve up congressional districts — known as apportionment — and draw state legislative districts by Dec. 31. Some groups are suggesting the deadline be pushed back, though it’s mandated by federal law.

“We are laser-focused on the statute’s Dec. 31 deadline for apportionment counts and population counts. We will continue to assess all of our operations to see if there are any changes that need to be made,” Michael Cook, chief of the bureau’s Public Information Office, said Tuesday.

The census started in late January in rural, native villages in Alaska, but the rest of the country wasn’t able to begin answering the questionnaire until the second week of March, when the bureau’s self-response website went live and people received notices in the mail that they could start answering the questions. But that was only a week before many governors and mayors started issuing stay-at-home orders to slow the virus’s spread, greatly hindering in-person rallies, meetings and door-knocking to raise awareness about the census.

Experts say connecting with trusted community leaders in person is the best way to reach people in hard-to-count groups that may be wary of the federal government.

“Certainly when folks are anxious about the public health issue, and kids are away from school, and they’re being away from work, it’s a concern that the census isn’t on top of people’s mind as you would want it to be,” said Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

The U.S. Census Bureau is spending $500 million on outreach efforts and relying on more than 300,000 nonprofits, businesses, local governments and civic groups to encourage participation in their communities. But those efforts have been hamstrung by the virus shutdown, so some are going digital.

Activist group Faith in Action held a Twitter chat to encourage people to fill out their census forms and Census Bureau Deputy Director Ron Jarmin went on Reddit to spread the word. Comcast NBCUniversal and Telemundo unveiled public service announcements Wednesday and said the company will provide $2 million in grants and in-kind contributions to community groups in hard-to-count areas.

Mayors also didn’t miss an opportunity at Wednesday coronavirus briefings to emphasize the importance of filling out the census questionnaire to residents under stay-at-home orders.

“You have many people who are home, and there’s still an opportunity for our families to complete those census forms,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said in Orlando.

Two surveys by the Pew Research Center suggest the messaging was reaching an audience — at least before the coronavirus outbreak. Pew conducted two surveys, one in early January and another in late February and early March. During that time, those who had seen or heard something about the census grew from half to two-thirds of respondents.

Most census takers won’t be sent out until late May to visit homes where people haven’t yet answered the questions online, by telephone or by mailing back a paper questionnaire. Until then, the bureau is pushing people to respond so they won’t have anyone knocking on their doors. As of Tuesday, more than 38% of households had already answered the questions.

The 2020 census will help determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets, as well as the distribution of about $1.5 trillion in federal spending.

Researchers at the Urban Institute worry that changed accommodations in response to the coronavirus may present a distorted picture of where people are living on Census Day. Some people left their usual residences to move in with parents or elderly relatives, escaped to vacation homes or had to move because they couldn’t pay rent due to jobs lost during the pandemic, they said.

Urban Institute researchers said the Census Bureau needs more processing time to identify duplicate responses and offer additional guidelines about how people should respond when the traditional recommendation to answer where you are living on April 1 is no longer clear for some. They’re asking that the Dec. 31 deadline be postponed, which would require an act of Congress.

“There’s no way reliable counts are going to be generated by the end of December,” said Robert Santos, vice president and chief methodologist at the Urban Institute. “It’s implausible.”

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Sun 8:45 p.m.: Youngstown mayor orders curfew | News, Sports, Jobs

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Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown as of 8:30 p.m. Sunday declared a civil emegency and ordered a curfew in the city as a result of “mob action and other civil disobedience.”

Reports had large crowds gathering around dusk surrounding police cruisers at the corner of Market and Boardman streets in downtown Youngstown.

Earlier in the day, two separate rallies in the downtown netted minor incidents including the breaking of windows at Choffin Career Center and the United Way office off Wood Street.

Then reports of a large crowd in the Wick Park area had prompted businesses to close on their own on the Belmont Avenue strip of Liberty Township, according to Sgt. Ray Buhala of the Liberty Police Department.

Brown’s curfew order, which includes the closing of all businesses and all city streets to motor vehicles and pedestrians except for emergency vehicles, shall remain in effect for 12 hours.

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Two new COVID-19 cases in Marshall County | News, Sports, Jobs

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DES MOINES — Marshall County only had two additional case of COVID-19 during the last 24 hours.

As of Sunday, Marshall County has 894 cases of COVID-19, a rise of two cases.

Marshall County dropped to sixth highest Iowa counties with COVID-19 cases. The other counties with higher numbers are Polk with 4,228; Woodbury, 2,750; Black Hawk, 1,746; Linn, 955; and Dallas, 903.

Overall Iowa had an increase of 385 bringing the state’s total number of cases to 19,551.

Of those, 11,111 have recovered.

Also, 534 Iowans have died from COVID-19 and 16 of those deaths were residents of Marshall County.

Marshall County makes up 3 percent of the state’s COVID-19 related deaths and 4.5 percent of Iowa’s total confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Marshall County is one the top ten states with the highest number of COVID-19 related tests. The counties tied or with more deaths are Polk with 126 deaths, Linn with 77 deaths, Black Hawk with 44 deaths, Muscatine 41 deaths, Woodbury with 34 deaths, Tama with 27 deaths, Dallas with 21 deaths, Dubuque with 18 deaths and Jasper with 16 deaths.

Marshall County has two recorded outbreaks in long-term care facilities. The Iowa Veterans Home has had 33 positive cases of COVID-19, with 16 recovered and Accura HealthCare of Marshalltown has had 55 cases, with 21 recovered.

In Iowa 156,713 people have been tested for COVID-19 with about 5 percent of Iowa’s population having been tested.

Across the state, 561,610 Test Iowa assessments have been conducted – 2,010 in Marshall County.

A public hotline has been established for questions about COVID-19 in Iowa. It is available 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431.

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Tensions High Over Protests Upstate, Downstate | News, Sports, Jobs

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The mayor in Rochester declared a state of emergency and a 9 p.m. curfew after demonstrators destroyed police cars, setting one on fire, and officers responded with tear gas canisters.

Albany police used tear gas and rode horses in efforts to quell demonstrators throwing objects. In Buffalo, numerous storefronts had their windows smashed and a person tried to start a fire in City Hall.

Downstate, the scene was even more tense.

Street protests spiraled into New York City’s worst day of unrest in decades Saturday, as fires burned, windows got smashed and dangerous confrontations between demonstrators and officers flared amid crowds of thousands decrying police killings.

A day that began with mostly peaceful marches through Harlem and neighborhoods in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens descended into chaos as night fell.

Demonstrators smashed windows, hurled objects at officers, torched and battered police vehicles and blocked roads with garbage and wreckage. A handful of stores in Manhattan had their windows broken and merchandise stolen.

Officers sprayed crowds with chemicals, and video showed two police cruisers lurching into a crowd of demonstrators on a Brooklyn street, knocking several to the ground, after people attacked it with thrown objects, including something on fire. It was unclear whether anyone was hurt.

It was the third straight day of protests in the city over the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minnesota, a remarkable outburst after most New Yorkers spent the past two months stuck inside as the coronavirus devastated the city. A night earlier, several thousand people faced off with a force of officers on the streets around a Brooklyn sports arena.

The NYPD said at least 120 people were arrested and at least 15 police vehicles damaged or destroyed.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, blamed the destruction on a small number of agitators who he said “do not represent this city” and were purposely trying to incite violence against police.

“We appreciate and respect all peaceful protest, but now it is time for people to go home,” de Blasio told reporters outside the city’s emergency management headquarters just after 11:30 p.m.

“What we’re seeing is people coming in from outside, a lot of them are purporting to speak about the issues of communities of color, but a lot of them are not from communities of color,” de Blasio said on the local cable news station NY1.

The protests in each city were all held in defiance of a statewide ban on gatherings imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“This is bigger than the pandemic,” said Brooklyn protester Meryl Makielski, referring to the outbreak that, until recently, was killing hundreds of New Yorkers each day. “The mistakes that are happening are not mistakes. They’re repeated violent terrorist offenses and people need to stop killing black people. Cops seem as though they’ve been trained to do so.”

Earlier in the day, de Blasio had expressed solidarity with demonstrators upset about police brutality, but promised an independent review of demonstrations Friday night in which a mob set fire to a police van and battered police cruisers with clubs and officers beat people with batons.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he had asked the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, to lead an inquiry and make a public report.

The mayor said he was upset by videos of confrontations “where protesters were handled very violently” by police, including one that showed a woman being needlessly thrown to the ground.

But he defended officers in the streets, saying they were being subjected “to horrible, vile things.” Of the video of officers driving into a crowd Saturday, de Blasio said it would be investigated, but that the officers acted because they were being attacked.

Violence early Saturday resulted in federal charges against three people suspected of building and throwing Molotov cocktails at police vehicles in two separate incidents in Brooklyn.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn said Samantha Shader, 27, of Catskill, New York, admitted under questioning to throwing her device at a van occupied by four officers. It did not ignite and the officers were unharmed, police said. Shader’s sister, Dorian, was also arrested and will face charges in state court, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office said.

Colinford Mattis, 32, and Urooj Rahman, 31, both of Brooklyn, are accused of targeting a police van. They were charged under a federal statute regarding the use of fire and explosives to cause damage to a police vehicle and each face 5 to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Information on their lawyers was not immediately available.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said more than 200 people were arrested and multiple officers were injured in Friday night’s protests, including one who lost a tooth.

Asked to comment on videos that showed officers shoving peaceful protesters to the ground and hitting people with batons, Shea said those acts would be investigated.

But, he said, “It is very hard to practice de-escalation when there is a brick being thrown at your head.”

“It is by the grace of God that we don’t have dead officers today,” he said.

In a peaceful gathering Saturday afternoon, the Rev. Al Sharpton addressed several hundred people in Staten Island at the spot where Eric Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by a police officer in 2014. He was accompanied by Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr.

Sharpton noted that Floyd, who died Monday in Minneapolis after an officer pressed his knee into his neck, had also fallen unconscious gasping for air.

“Right at this spot is where we heard Eric Garner say what six years later was said by George: ‘I can’t breathe.’”

Cuomo noted that Floyd’s death was just the latest in a long list of similar deaths, and he said he shared in the outrage over “this fundamental injustice.”

“But violence is not the answer. It never is the answer,” he said. “The violence obscures the righteousness of the message and the mission.”

___

Associated Press writers Karen Matthews, Jennifer Peltz, Michael R. Sisak, Tom Hays, Maria Sanminiatelli and Robert Bumsted in New York, Dave Collins in Hartford, Connecticut, and John Wawrow in Buffalo contributed to this report.

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