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Updated August 17,2020


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 decennial 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 Toks ook 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. Dr. Dillingham
stated on March 18 that ifadditional adjustments became
necessary, the bureau would make themknown promptly.

A subsequent press release, dated March 28,2020 (CB20-
RTQ. 14), gave notice that field operations would not
resume until April 15.

An April 13, 2020, press release fromSecretary of
Commerce Wilbur Ross and Dr. Dillingham (CB20-
RTQ. 16), with a new operations schedule, indicated the
bureau's need to delay release of the 2020 state census
counts for apportioning seats in the U.S. House of
Repres entatives 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)).

A May 4, 2020, press release (CB20-CN.44) and May 7
revised schedule announced a phasedrestart ofcertain
2020 census field operations, to begin immediately in
selected areas in coordination with federal, state, andlocal
health officials. The bureau noted that field and Area
Census Office (ACO) staff would receive training in safety
measures to avoid contracting or transmitting COVID- 19.
Staff also were to receive personal protective equipment
before operations restarted. A list of the first ACOs to
reopen accompaniedthe release. The list was updated
weekly through June 9 as more offices were added.

Dr. Dillingham, in an August 3,2020, press release (CB20-
RTQ.23), announced a revision of the earlier plan to delay
releasing the apportionment numbers past December 31.
The latest plan, the announcement s tated, was to meet the
deadline, as required by law and directed by the Secretary
of Commerce. The operations schedule was revised
accordingly. It noted that OMB recently submitted a $1
billion supplemental request for the 2020 census, for more
hiring, pay incentives, additional outreach and advertising,
and replenished contingency funding to provide needed
flexibility as the bureau conducts its largest field


operation, Nonresponse Follow-Up (NRFU), covered
below.

This In Focus discusses the various major components of
the bureau's 2020 census fieldwork, their original and latest
schedules, and relevant legislation.





Census Bureau managers and s taff at 2020 census field
offices are conducting, the bureau stated, administrative,
training, deployment, and support activities for the peak
data collection phaseofthe census. Part ofthe
preparations involves selecting and hiring field staff. The
operations were to havebegun onMarch 1,2020, but were
postponed until phased reopening occurred, fromMay 4 to
June 12. The bureau, its 2020 census recruitment site
(2020census.gov/jobs) indicates, still wants applicants for
temporary,part-tine census work, especially in certain
counties identified on the site.


Invitations to answer the census were mailed to about 95%
of U.S. households fromMarch 12to March 20,2020. By
August 12, the Census Bureau reported, 63.5% of
households had answered; 50.8% had respondedonline.
The bureau, before thepandemic, 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 riskof contracting
COVID- 19. In addition, the bureau is accepting completed
paper questionnaires by mail and answers by telephone.
The initial phaseofthe census, in which households are
asked to respond without further prompting bythe bureau,
was to continue fromMarch 12to July 31. The adjusted
schedule shows this phase concluding on September 30.


The operation that began in Toks ook Bay on January 21,
2020, is to end on August 31 and is expected to be
completed mostly on schedule, but, the bureau advised,
some areas with year-roundpopulations willbe
enumerated when enumeration is safe to do.


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 onMarch 16,2020, and was
to end on April 30. It was suspendeduntil June 14, then was
to continue until July 29. The bureau, to protectboth census


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