The 2020 Census is underway but concerns over the coronavirus have put a halt to certain operations. (The Enterprise/Yadira Lopez)
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VALE – The 2020 Census kicked off with a sprint mid-March, but the COVID-19 crisis is bringing things down to a jog as officials announced Wednesday, March 18, that field operations will be suspended for two weeks.
“We’re encouraging everyone to fill it out online. We will be able to assist them remotely,” said Norma Ramirez, programs manager at the Ontario nonprofit Euvalcree. The organization is acting as a Census Assistance Center this year in an effort to help reach what are considered “hard to count” communities.
The U.S. Census Bureau said in a statement that the move to suspend field operations until April 1 was to ensure the safety of communities and Census employees who are working on the ground to get the word out about the decennial headcount.
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At Euvalcree, employees will be available by phone or even Facetime for anyone who wants help or has questions. Ramirez said community members can still walk in for help, too, since her office remains open.
“But if people don’t feel safe or secure, we understand,” Ramirez said.
The bureau is encouraging everyone to respond online at 2020Census.gov or by calling 844-330-2020. The questionnaire is also available in multiple languages, including Spanish, Arabic and Somali.
The Census is expected to bring in more than $3,000 per person into the community in the form of federal and state government appropriations, but the risk of an undercount is high, especially in rural areas and households without access to the Internet.
In those cases, Census takers have typically been hired to do a last sweep of households, but it’s unclear what the effects of the virus will be on that operation.
“In late May, census takers around the nation will begin visiting households that have not yet responded to the 2020 Census to help complete the count,” U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said in a statement. “As we continue to monitor the evolving COVID-19 outbreak, we will adjust census taker and survey operations as necessary in order to follow the guidance of federal, state and local health authorities.”
The Census can be completed online at 2020census.gov.
In Spanish at: 2020cesnus.gov/es
The 2020 Census can be completed by phone in the following languages. Phone lines are open every day from 7am to 2am Eastern Time.
Chinese (Mandarin): 844-391-2020
Chinese (Cantonese): 844-398-2020
Haitian Creole: 844-477-2020
English (for Puerto Rico residents): 844-418-2020
Spanish (for Puerto Rico residents): 844-426-2020
For information on services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing: Call the TDD number at 844-467-2020.
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