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How COVID-19 will impact the 2020 Census

Every 10 years, Americans are asked to respond to the US Census. This time around, there are multiple ways to fill it out while social distancing.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — April 1st isn’t just April Fool’s day, this year it’s also Census Day. The census counts every person living in the United States and US territories, and the US Census Bureau says 50 million households have already responded. 

But April 1 isn’t the deadline -- the census just wants to know where you live and who lives with you on the date of April 1.

Every 10 years around this time, census takers go door-to-door asking people to respond to the census questionnaire. This year, though, that’s not happening – at least not yet.

“We have temporarily suspended our field operations,” said Michael Cook with the US Census Bureau. “You will not see any census bureau employees walking the streets and encouraging people to respond.”

In fact, Cook says because of the coronavirus, you have more time to do it.

“We have extended the self-respond period from July 31st to August 14th,” Cook said.

Cook says it’s never been easier to respond on your own.

“You can respond online, you can also respond by phone, as well as sending back a paper questionnaire,” Cook said.

To fill it out online, you’ll go to my2020census.gov and type in the Census ID written on the paper you received in the mail. It’ll ask you if you live at your particular address on April 1, and questions about who lives with you.

“We’re proud to say that 50 million households have already responded to the census,” Cook said.

Cook says their research has shown one reason people don’t respond to the census is that they don’t know about the benefits.

“It’s about power, political representation, the house and the
seats of Congress being apportioned properly, and it’s about money,” Cook said. “It’s about billions of federal dollars that come down to the local level.” 

Cook says the sooner you can answer, the better.

“When you do respond, it negates the need for us to eventually send census takers to knock on doors if and when the COVID-19 situation resolves,” Cook said.

If you don’t have your census paper, Cook says the week of April 8-16, questionnaires will be sent directly to houses across America for you to respond. 

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