Census Bureau officials stress online, mail-in responses in light of coronavirus


ST. PAUL — Having delayed some U.S. Census Bureau's field operations because of the coronavirus pandemic, agency officials are stressing the importance of responding to the decennial population survey online and by letter.

Census takers are typically only dispatched to households that don't respond to questionnaires sent through the mail. But in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, the Census Bureau this week announced that it would delay in-person follow-ups until April 9 for college areas and until late May for other locales.

Despite the chaos caused by the outbreak, Census decennial programs associate director Al Fontenot stressed Friday, March 20, that "the 2020 census is here."

"It’s important to our nation that everyone respond," he continued.

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.


And while most who receive a questionnaire will fill out and return it, officials said there will always be a few who do not respond at all. In an effort to protect the people sent to contact them from the virus, they urged members of the public on Friday to fill out their forms as soon as possible. This census for which they can do so online.

At the same time, 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.

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