CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Census Bureau will suspend its field operations until April 1 to help slow the spread of coronavirus, the agency announced Wednesday afternoon. But people can still complete their census 2020 forms online, by phone or by mail.
Most American households by now have received instructions to complete the census electronically. Paper forms were mailed to selected areas, such as those with low internet use or where large numbers of older people live.
“During this pause in field operations, the Census Bureau will continue to evaluate all 2020 census operations,” Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said in a statement. “Should any additional adjustments need to be made, the Census Bureau will communicate these changes broadly and promptly.”
The first scheduled extensive in-person field work by the bureau was for the counting of homeless people at shelters, soup kitchens, tent communities and other places March 30 to April 1.
The bureau said earlier this week that it was working to adjust those plans as necessary: “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.”
More than 11 million households have already completed their census forms.
A targeted follow-up to non-responders near college campuses has been delayed indefinitely from the planned start of April 9.
Door-to-door follow-ups with other non-responding households, even under the original plan, were not to take place until May and June.
The entire schedule is subject to change.
“The planned completion date for data collection for the 2020 Census is July 31, 2020, however, that date can and will be adjusted if necessary as the situation evolves in order to achieve a complete and accurate count,” the Census Bureau said earlier this week.
The bureau on Wednesday again asked people to fill their forms electronically or by mail.
“We encourage everyone to respond online today at 2020Census.gov,” Dillingham said. “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.”
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