Coronavirus forces changes to 2020 U.S. Census

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Tuesday, April 1, is “Census Day.” This means, census forms should be filled out with information that is accurate on that date.

But coronavirus forced changes to many parts of the 2020 Census.

“The census is resilient,” said Michael Cook with the U.S. Census Bureau. “I don’t think anybody could have actually thought about or predicted a pandemic, but we will do our due diligence and make sure that we have a complete and accurate count, and it’s going to take all of us.”

The census completion date is December 31, 2020. That date hasn’t changed. But details of what happens between now and then have changed quite a bit.

“We want to make sure that we count the resident population completely and accurately, but we do not want to put anyone, the public or our staff, in harm’s way,” Cook said.

This month, Census Bureau volunteers were set to visit colleges and senior centers to compile data. Now, all field operations are suspended for at least two weeks.

“Our door to door operations is currently being evaluated,” Cook said. “Just like everyone else, we are listening and following the guidance of public health authorities. We will not endanger the lives of the public nor our staff.”

College students who live on campus are advised to take no action. The U.S. Census Bureau will get their information from the college or university directly. Students who live off campus are advised to fill out the census form with the address of their residence this semester.

For those who live in senior living facilities, the U.S. Census Bureau is working with administrators for resident data as well.

For others who need assistance, the U. S. Census Bureau is working with local health authorities to figure out the best way to move forward.

Starting in May, volunteers were scheduled to go door-to-door, something the U.S. Census Bureau is keeping close tabs on and could change.

“Our leadership at the Census Bureau is evaluating the ongoing situation every single day,” Cook said. “We have an internal task force that’s monitoring not just the operations at our headquarters but all of our field staff to ensure that everybody’s safe.”

Officials stress, obtaining census information is important even in the midst of coronavirus. This determines representation in Congress and funding for things like schools, roads and social services for the next 10 years.

The due date to submit information for the U.S. Census was July 31, 2020. That is now pushed to August 14, 2020.

Officials caution, more changes could be coming as they watch for coronavirus updates every day.

They stress, the fastest way to submit information is at their website.

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