Fill out your U.S. census.

That's it. That's the message.

If somehow a five-word sentence could work as a full column, I'd have stopped. Nothing more needs to be said.

Fill out your U.S. census.

The coronavirus and the fact most of our lives have been flipped upside down isn't an excuse.

It's quick. It's easy. It's painless. It's important.

It costs you nothing and you can't catch the virus from doing it.

Can I be finished now?

No? I need to sell it better?

OK, here goes.

Filling out your U.S. census is so simple that it shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes to do it online. And that's if you're not particularly computer savvy. If you are, you could probably get it done in 5 minutes.

Find the piece(s) of mail you've received from the U.S. Census Bureau, the one with the big, bold 12-digit census ID printed on it.

Then go to the website my2020Census.gov and make a couple of clicks. Fill out the appropriate space with your 12-digit ID number and click "Login."

You don't even need your 12-digit number. You can click into the census questionnaire without one, but it just takes a little longer.

Boom. You're into the census and you can begin answering simple questions about your household and the people who were living in it on April 1. You'll need to know the names of the people living in your home (easy), their gender (easy) and their birth dates (harder, but still easy).

A couple of final questions and you're done, back to watching Netflix or staring at your phone. Or talking to your family. That, too.

It's really that easy.

The ease with which you can fill out your census form defies its importance.

Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, every 10 years we count the people living in this country. It determines our representation in Congress — at least in states that have multiple congressional districts like Minnesota. This year's census is particularly important to Minnesota because the state is in danger of losing a congressional district (from eight to seven) if it doesn't meet a population threshold.

And if you don't fill out your census, you don't get counted. Like you don't exist.

Locally, communities like Moorhead could lose out on federal money granted to Minnesota if the city is undercounted. That's why Moorhead's Complete Count Committee (of which I am a member) is busy trying to get out the word to city residents in any way possible about filling out a census form.

The coronavirus has made that a challenge, but the committee is forging ahead. As is the Complete Count Committee in Fargo. Getting out in the community and interacting in public is off the table, but Moorhead's committee is ramping up its digital and marketing presence.

Because of virus concerns, the deadline for filling out the census has been extended two weeks to Aug. 14.

"It's concerning because, as I heard someone else say, we'll get through this situation with the coronavirus. We'll return to something like normal at some point relatively soon and even the economic issues . . . we can overcome. But if we fail at our census effort, it will last for 10 years," said Robin Huston, Moorhead's city planner who a liaison to the city's census committee. "That's why we can't stress enough that we have to get everyone counted. It's hard but we have to make it happen because it's important."

So far, Minnesotans have been good — the best, in fact — about self-responding to the census. As of Friday afternoon, according to an interactive map available at the U.S. Census Bureau website, 51.8% of Minnesotans who received census information had responded. That's No. 1 in the nation, edging out Wisconsin's 50.0%. South Dakota was at 43.3% while North Dakota checked in at 42.8%.

Get with it, North Dakota.

And fret not. If you don't feel comfortable filling out the census forms online — even though it's really, really, really easy — you can wait until paper forms are mailed to you. You can even give your information over the phone using the Census Bureau's toll-free number, although you might find yourself waiting on hold for too long.

However you do it, just do it.

Fill out your U.S. census.