The U.S. Census Bureau said it is pausing its field operations until April 1 because of the coronavirus, and is urging Americans to fill out their Census forms by mail, computer, phone or tablet.
Census takers aren't scheduled to visit homes that have not filled out their 2020 Census until late May, and the status of those home visits is unclear. However, it is suspending in-person visits for other kinds of Census data it collects, such as economic and household data.
The U.S. Census Bureau said it is carefully monitoring the coronavirus situation and following the guidance of federal, state and local health authorities. The bureau is adjusting the way it does things to protect its staff and the public, and to fulfill its statutory requirement to deliver the 2020 Census counts to the president on schedule.Despite the chaos caused by the outbreak, Census decennial programs associate director Al Fontenot stressed Friday that "the 2020 census is here."
"It’s important to our nation that everyone respond," he continued.
Douglas County area homes have begun receiving Census forms in the mail. Residents should count everyone they expect to live in their home on April 1. Those who reply online may choose from 13 languages. To reply by phone, call 844-330-2020. To reply online, visit 2020census.gov.
More than 18 million households have already responded to the 2020 census, Fontenot and other officials said during a Friday press call. Census questionnaires are being sent out to more and more each day.
Officials said Friday that they had no plans to stop accepting applications for part-time census work, about 2.8 million of which have been processed so far. Though many census taking jobs have already been filled, Census Bureau associate director of field operations Timothy Olson said that applications were still being accepted in case current job candidates aren't able to commit.
Census data is used for many purposes, chiefly to determine how many members a state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives and how much money states and communities receive. It helps officials decide where to build roads and provide services for the elderly, and is frequently used by researchers, journalists, businesses, economic developers, city planners and others.