The 2020 Census is still going strong, but in light of what's going on with COVID-19, there have been some operational changes while officials press ahead with safe, secure and on-time methods.
“This is an incredibly rapidly evolving scenario that is affecting a lot of people, and so our highest priority is that anything that we do would not ever hurt anybody in the American public and also would protect the health and well being of our temporary census workforce," said Tim Olson, Associate Director for Field Operations with the U.S. Census Bureau.
Officials say they are evaluating possible changes by the hour as the situation with the coronavirus continues to evolve.
“There could be some field operations where we are literally contacting households in person that haven’t responded—there could be delays in when we do that," Olson said.
Despite the threat of the coronavirus, as of Wednesday, officials say more than 10 million households have responded to the 2020 Census. Those numbers are higher than their expectations at this point.
“I think there’s a couple of reasons for that. Number one, what’s going on with the nation with this health crisis, more people are at home, so I think that’s contributing to the higher response rate than expected. But I think there’s another thing going on though too, I believe people really are starting to understand how important the census is to their community, to their state, and to the nation," Olson said.
The 2020 Census count is completely confidential and determines how each state is represented in the U.S. House of Representatives and how much money is brought back into communities for resources such as emergency services, hospitals, school funding, roads and transportation.
The U.S. Census Bureau says they have established a COVID-19 internal task force, while also monitoring the situation and following guidance from federal, state and local health authorities.
From March 12th to March 20th, households should receive their first of several invitations to participate in the 2020 Census. You can respond by mail, by phone or online by visiting www.2020census.gov.