Dallas Tries to Tackle Two Challenges With One Packet: COVID-19 and the Census

10,000 packets contain face masks and census information

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The city of Dallas has prepared 10,000 packets to promote coronavirus protection and a complete count in the U.S. Census. The packets contain a face mask, coronavirus information and a card to link to the census form.

The packets are being distributed to places where coronavirus is prevalent, which also happens to be places where people are thought to be hard to count, based on experience in past census years.

A complete count in the once-a-decade census was a big priority for Dallas before coronavirus came to town. Now, many people have forgotten about the population count amid fear of the disease.

The Stewpot, a ministry of the First Presbyterian Church in Dallas that provides meals for homeless people, has helped pass out the packets.

“It may seem like those are small things, to have a little packet to give out to each person, but it’s a huge thing because they may not have access to hand sanitizer and face masks and the information about the census,” Stewpot director Brenda Snitzer said.

According to Snitzer, the homeless population in Dallas includes age and ethnic groups that have been especially vulnerable to this disease. And getting a full share of the federal money is especially important for helping homeless people in the future.

“It is crucial to provide services and be able to get folks back on their feet,” Snitzer said.

Long before the coronavirus pandemic, the city of Dallas was also working to become a “resilient city.”

Many meetings were held to develop a plan to help the city adapt, survive and thrive in the face of shocks and challenges.

Dallas Chief Resilience Officer Genesis Gavino said no one imagined the set of problems Dallas is facing now.

“So, we are learning as we go," she said. "But I think the fundamentals of our resilience plan have helped us to be able to respond in an equitable manner."

The Office of Resilience helped prepare the packets aimed at addressing coronavirus and the census.

“We had plans to go out into the community, to do events, but obviously now that's not a possibility. So we're trying to find as many ways as possible to reach the community and let them know that the census is important,” Gavino said.

Half the packets have already been distributed and 5,000 more are still to be handed out.

Here is a link to the request form to obtain packets.

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