2020 Census continues but with some health concern adjustments

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The following is a press release from Jennifer Hillmann, 2020 Census Media Specialist – Colorado/Wyoming/Kansas:

(Mar. 16, 2020) — The U.S. Census Bureau continues to carefully monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and follow the guidance of federal, state, and local health authorities. We are adjusting some operations as outlined below with two key principles in mind: protecting the health and safety of our staff and the public, and fulfilling our statutory requirement to deliver the 2020 Census counts to the President on schedule.

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As of Sunday, March 15th, over 5 million have responded online to the 2020 Census! Currently, the planned completion date for data collection for the 202​0 Census is July 31, 2020, but that date can and will be adjusted if necessary as the situation dictates in order to achieve a complete and accurate count.

So, what steps are we taking now?

We are adjusting operations to make sure college students are counted.

  • College students living in on-campus housing are counted through their university as part of our Group Quarters operation, which counts all students living in university-owned housing. In addition to college dormitories, the Group Quarters operation also includes places like nursing homes, group homes, halfway houses and prisons.
  • In general, students in colleges and universities temporarily closed due to COVID-19 will still be counted as part of this process. Even if they are home on Census Day, April 1, they should be counted according to the residence criteria that states they should be counted where they live and sleep most of the time. We are asking schools to contact their students and remind them to respond.
  • Per the Census Bureau’s residence criteria, students living away from home at school should be counted at school in most cases, even if they are temporarily elsewhere due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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We are working with group quarters administrators to ensure we count their residents.

  • The 2020 Census is designed to offer multiple ways to respond. We’re encouraging administrators of group housing to choose a way to count their residents that requires less in-person contact.
  • For the Group Quarters operation, which counts people in nursing homes, college dorms, prisons, and other institutional living facilities, we offer a myriad of ways to respond, such as via eResponse, paper listing, or self-enumeration by the facility.
  • We’re contacting all group quarters administrators that have requested an in-person visit and asking them to consider an eResponse or offering to drop off and later pick up paper forms to minimize in-person contact with our census staff.

Additional Steps and Precautions:

  • We are working with service providers at emergency and transitional shelters, soup kitchens, and regularly scheduled mobile food vans to adapt plans to count the populations they serve.
  • The plan has been to interview each person served a meal or staying at the facility at a date and time the service providers choose between March 30 and April 1.
  • We are now contacting the service providers to determine whether they will be open between March 30 and April 1 and whether they would be able to provide a paper listing of census response data for each person served or staying at the facility instead.

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Delaying the start of our Mobile Questionnaire Assistance program.

  • We plan to offer assistance with responding to the 2020 Census at events and locations where people naturally gather as part of our Mobile Questionnaire Assistance.
  • We now plan to offer this assistance fully across the country on April 13, delaying from the previously planned start of March 30.

Delaying our Early Nonresponse Follow-up operation.

  • In this operation, census takers begin following up with households that haven’t responded yet around some colleges and universities. By starting early, we can count households in areas with off-campus housing before the end of the spring semester when students may leave for another residence.  We’re delaying the start of this effort from April 9 to April 23.

It has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail—all without the need of a census taker coming to your door.

We will continue to monitor the situation, take appropriate steps in consultation with public health authorities, and provide ongoing updates.