The count must go on, as census operations pick back up
This year will certainly go down in history as the year of COVID-19 — but it is also a census year.
And even with the pandemic threatening to stand in the way, the 2020 Census will go on. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the census is on track and on time to complete the count of everyone living in the United States.
The bureau announced Monday, May 11, that in coordination with federal, state and local health officials, it is beginning to drop off 2020 Census questionnaire packets at the front doors of households in Oregon this week.
The bureau originally started hand-delivering census materials on March 15, but it suspended fieldwork on March 18 due to the pandemic.
Now, field staff are back at it, delivering to areas where most households do not receive mail at their physical addresses, according to bureau spokesperson Misty D. Slater.
In total, the bureau will deliver 2020 Census invitations and paper questionnaires at the front doors of roughly 27,229 households in Oregon and 5.1 million stateside households.
Because of the pandemic, though, the deliveries will go a little differently than in previous years.
"The health and safety of Census Bureau staff and the public is always a top priority," Slater said in a statement.
The operation is contactless and follows the most current federal health and safety guidelines, per the letter. Temporary field staff have been trained to observe all physical distancing protocols and will wear official government-provided personal protective equipment for their safety and the safety of the public.
The bureau is making the extra effort to push through changing circumstances because the operation is crucial to ensure a complete and accurate count of all communities, which helps guide hundreds of billions of dollars in public and private sectors spending per year, according to the bureau.
The data from the census is used in a variety of ways, including to determine the number of seats each state holds in Congress, to determine how federal funding is distributed to states, to help communities plan for residents' needs and more.
In other words, failure to participate can lead to tainted numbers — and therefore less representation and less federal funding.
"When people are reticent (to participate), you're only shooting yourself in the foot, because it's your community," Beth Federici, a recruiting assistant for the Census Bureau, said in a previous interview. "It's your roads. It's your school. So, if we don't count every single person, then we don't get an actual snapshot of how the community has grown."
Those who receive packets are encouraged to respond promptly to the 2020 Census using the ID number included in the questionnaire packet. Responding with a census ID or the paper questionnaire helps ensure the best count of the community, the bureau notes.
People can respond online at 2020census.gov, by phone at 844-330-2020 for English and 844-468-2020 for Spanish or by using the paper form in the packet.
For more information on the 2020 Census as it relates to COVID-19, visit 2020census.gov/en/news-events/operational-adjustments-covid-19.html.
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