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Updated April 16, 2020

2020 Census Fieldwork Delayed by COVID-19

In a March 18, 2020, press release (CB20-RTQ.08), U.S.
Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham announced that
the bureau was suspending all 2020 census field operations
until April 1. This action, a response to the novel
coronavirus disease first observed in 2019 (COVID-19) and
designated a pandemic by the World Health Organization
on March 11, 2020, came at a critical time for the census.
Although April 1 was the official Census Day, early data
collection began in remote Toksook Bay, Alaska, on
January 21. Other tightly timed field operations were
underway or imminent, including the bureau's personal
outreach to hard-to-count areas and groups. In-person visits
to nonresponding households, originally set for mid-May,
were delayed by two weeks. Dr. Dillingham stated on
March 18 that if additional adjustments became
necessary, the bureau would communicate them broadly
and promptly.

A subsequent press release on the topic, dated March 28,
2020 (CB20-RTQ. 14), announced an extended suspension
of field operations, until April 15. The release did not
present another revised schedule for the individual
operations, but noted that the bureau continued to
evaluate them and would communicate any further
updates as soon as possible.

The latest communication (CB20-RTQ. 16) and
accompanying schedule, issued on April 13, 2020, indicated
that the bureau would delay release of the 2020 state census
counts for apportioning seats in the U.S. House of
Representatives and the data for within-state redistricting
past the respective December 31, 2020, and March 31,
2021, legal deadlines for these products (see Title 13, US.
Code, Section 141 (b) and (c)). The bureau gave three
reasons for rescheduling: to protect the health and safety
of the American public and Census Bureau employees; to
implement guidance from federal, state, and local
authorities regarding COVID-19; and to ensure a
complete and accurate count of all communities.

This In Focus notes the various major components of the
bureau's 2020 census fieldwork, with their original and, as
of April 13, 2020, latest schedules. The In Focus will be
updated to reflect any additional developments.

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Census Bureau managers and staff at 2020 census field
offices are to conduct, according to the bureau,
administrative, training, deployment, and support activities

for the peak data collection' phase of the census. Part of
the preparations involve selecting and hiring field staff.
The operations were to have begun on March 1 but have
been postponed until June 1. The bureau's 2020 census
recruitment site (2020census.gov/jobs) has posted, under a
COVID- 19 banner, a notice that the bureau continues to
accept applications for temporary part-time census
positions. Applicants who have been offered jobs are
still selected for these positions and can continue checking
the site for additional information on how and when they
will be trained.

Invitations to answer the census were mailed to about 95%
of U.S. households from March 12 to March 20, 2020. By
April 13, more than 48% of the households had responded,
according to Census Bureau press release CB20-RTQ. 16.
The bureau, before the pandemic, had strongly encouraged
online responses as the fastest, easiest, most accurate way
to complete the census, and lately is promoting the internet
for these advantages, plus no associated risk of contracting
COVID-19. In addition, the bureau is accepting completed
paper questionnaires by mail and responses by telephone.
This initial phase of the census, in which households are
encouraged to respond soon after receiving their invitations,
was to continue from March 12 to July 31. The adjusted
schedule extends the initial phase until October 31.

The operation that began in Toksook Bay on January 21
was to end on April 30. It will be completed mostly on
schedule, the bureau has reported, though some areas with
year-round populations will be enumerated when it is safe
to do so.

During Update Enumerate, enumerators are to update the
addresses of, and interview in person, about 2,000
households in remote areas of northern Maine and southeast
Alaska. The operation began on March 16 and was to end
on April 30. It has been suspended until June 14 and is to
end on July 29. The bureau, to protect both census takers
and respondents from COVID-19, has directed that
enumerators conduct interviews outside homes, at least six
feet away from respondents.

Another operation, Update Leave, covers not quite 5% of
households, located where residents are unlikely to receive
mail at their homes. Examples include across Puerto Rico
and in other areas that have recently experienced natural
disasters. Enumerators update the addresses of these
households for the bureau's master address file and drop off

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