Based on continuing assessments of guidance from federal, state and local health authorities, the U.S. Census Bureau announced it is suspending 2020 Census field operations for two additional weeks to April 15, 2020.
“The Census Bureau is taking this step to help protect the health and safety of the American public, Census Bureau employees, and everyone who will go through the hiring process for temporary census taker positions,” it said in a brief statement posted on its website.
“The Census Bureau continues to evaluate all 2020 Census field operations and will communicate any further updates as soon as possible,” it added.
Field operations were slated to begin April 1, according to the original timeline.
In the meantime 2020 Census — a legally mandated process for all U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico residents — is open for self-response online, over the phone by calling the number provided in an invitation, and by paper through the mail.
For Puerto Rico, that decision means putting on hold the work of some 18,000 people the U.S. Census hired to go door-to-door gathering information from island residents.
“The COVID-19 scenario has changed almost any calendar and the 2020 Census isn’t the exception. In the case of Puerto Rico, the adjustment in census operations means that a delay in the household questionnaire delivery by the census enumerators will happen,” said Alberto L. Velázquez-Estrada, statistics projects manager at the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics, the local government agency partnered with the U.S. Census on the data-gathering process.
“However, a first wave of 2020 Census notification began arriving in household postal addresses this week. This letter includes a census ID that allows to quickly self-respond the Census online, even using smartphones or tablets,” he said.
The online option is available in the 13 main languages of the United States, including Spanish, Velázquez-Estrada said.
“We encourage all of the population with internet access to take the time over the next lockdown days to answer this essential questionnaire. For those households without internet, access to the questionnaire will be delivered once the field operations resume,” he said.
“This is our shot to update the population size and its characteristics for the next decade with the best possible accuracy. It’s now in our hands, in every Puerto Rico household to complete our duty as residents. It only takes a few minutes,” he added.