Coronavirus: Census makes changes to reduce risk during pandemic

The 2020 Census is underway and the U.S. Census Bureau is adjusting some practices to keep everyone safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nikol Miller, chairwoman of the Dayton-Montgomery County Complete County Committee, said the preferred method for filling out the 2020 Census is online, but if for whatever reason someone can’t fill out the census online, they can call or mail in the questionnaire.

Five million Americans have already filled out the 2020 Census, said Carol Hector-Harris, Census Bureau spokeswoman for the Philadelphia region. Many households should have gotten mail starting last week about filling out the 2020 Census, she said.

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Census Bureau officials are carefully monitoring the coronavirus situation. They are working with national, state and local health authorities to continue conducting the 2020 Census.

“We’re focused on two key principles: protecting the health and safety of our staff and the public, and fulfilling our constitutional duty to deliver the 2020 Census counts on schedule,” Census Bureau officials said in a news release.

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For the “group quarters” operation, which counts people in nursing homes, college dorms, prisons and other institutional living facilities, the Census Bureau offers a few different ways to respond, such as online, paper listing or self-counting by the facility. The Census Bureau is contacting all group quarters administrators that have requested an in-person visit to ask them to consider an an online response or offer to drop off and later pick up paper forms to minimize in-person contact with census staff.

“When we plan the census, we plan for all sorts of contingencies. We are prepared to adjust our normal operations if needed,” bureau officials said.

The Census Bureau is delaying sending census takers to households that haven’t responded to the census. Census takers won’t be out until the end of April now.

Hector-Harris said that in light of the coronavirus pandemic, it is more important now than ever to fill out the 2020 Census.

“This is the perfect opportunity to complete the census online or over the phone,” Hector-Harris said. “And with children having to be home from school in Ohio, it could be a family activity.”

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