Concerns about COVID-19 (the illness caused by the new coronavirus) are increasing as the number of cases grows across the United States, and many people are wondering whether this public health crisis will have an effect on the Census count.
Fortunately, the 2020 Census is set up in a way that allows everyone to participate without fear of exposure to the virus. When the invitation to participate comes in the mail, it will include instructions for responding online, by phone, and by mail. As the Census Bureau says,
It has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker.
You will be able to respond either online or by phone in English and 12 other languages. If you respond right away, no Census taker will visit you.
The Census Bureau’s most recent statement, released on March 11, outlines the plan for in-person followup:
Census takers plan to conduct the Nonresponse Followup operation in a handful of communities beginning as early as April 9, and across the country on May 13. Households can still respond on their own during this phase (online and phone response is available through July 31).
The Census Bureau will closely follow guidance from public health authorities when conducting this operation, as we do when conducting all field operations.
If we need to delay or discontinue nonresponse follow-up visits in a particular community, we will adapt our operation to ensure we get a complete and accurate count.
The safest and easiest strategy, then, is to respond online or by phone as soon as you receive the invitation in the mail.