The U.S. Census Bureau today announced that it will suspend field operations until April 1 in order to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. The bureau will refocus its resources on phone calls instead of in-person visits.
Census data is used to allocate billions of dollars in federal funding for education, health, transportation, housing, community services, and job training. Moreover, businesses and industries decide where to locate new facilities and services based on census data, creating new jobs and promoting economic growth.
An accurate census count, or lack thereof, has a lasting effect on counties, particularly when it comes to the distribution of federal funds. An under-counted population may lead to a significant decline in federal funding flowing to county governments or to county residents.
According to a press release:
During this pause in field operations, the Census Bureau will continue to evaluate all 2020 Census operations. Should any additional adjustments need to be made, the Census Bureau will communicate these changes broadly and promptly.
In late May, census takers around the nation will begin visiting households that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census to help complete the count. As we continue to monitor the evolving COVID-19 outbreak, we will adjust census taker and survey operations as necessary in order to follow the guidance of federal, state and local health authorities.
The public is strongly encouraged to respond to the 2020 Census online using a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet, and can also respond by phone or mail. Everyone should respond to the 2020 Census as soon as they receive their invitation — and when they’re finished, they can make sure their friends, families and social networks know about the importance of responding.
It has never been easier to respond to the census, and the 2020 Census will count everyone accurately. We recognize that many people plan to access the 2020 Census through other response modes, such as phone or paper, which is why the 2020 Census has such a nimble design.
On March 15, 2020, the Census Bureau announced several adaptations to our group quarters operations to accommodate recent scheduling changes on college campuses as leadership takes action to keep students and faculty safe.
For all other Census Bureau household and economic surveys separate from the 2020 Decennial Census, Bureau personnel will begin using phone calls instead of in-person visits. In the limited number of instances where an in-person visit is necessary, we are working closely with public health authorities to ensure each visit is accomplished safely.
Once again, we encourage everyone to respond online today at 2020Census.gov. With the flexibility and support of the American people, we will achieve a complete and accurate count which helps guide funding decisions for things like hospitals, roads and emergency services. Respondents can also respond by calling the number provided in their invitation or by mail once they have received a paper form.
Read the full press release for more information.