News

Census Bureau adjusts 2020 in light of COVID-19

It has never been easier to complete the U.S. Census Questionnaire, whether it be online, over the phone, or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker. While the U.S. Census Bureau continues to carefully monitor the COVID-19 situation and follow federal, state and local guidelines, they are adjusting some operations as outlined below with two key principles in mind: protecting the health and safety of their staff and the public, and fulfilling their statutory requirement to deliver the 2020 Census counts on schedule. As of today, almost 18 million have responded online.

In the interim, they have suspended all field operations until early April while continuing to work with their partners, including your San Antonio Chamber to encourage residents to self-respond online, over the phone, or by mail.

The Bureau is adjusting operations for Group Quarters, including college students. College students living in on-campus housing are counted through their university as part of the Bureau’s Group Quarters operation, which counts all students living in university-owned housing. In addition to college dormitories, the Group Quarters operation also includes places like nursing homes, group homes, halfway houses and prisons. Per the Bureau’s residence criteria, students living away from home on-campus housing should be counted at school, even if they are temporarily at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bureau offers a myriad of ways to respond, such as via e-Response, paper listing, or self-enumeration by the facility. They are currently contacting all group quarters administrators that have requested an in-person visit and asking them to consider an e-Response or offering to drop off and later pick up paper forms to minimize in-person contact with our census staff. The Bureau is also working with service providers at emergency and transitional shelters, soup kitchens, and regularly scheduled mobile food vans to adapt plans to count the populations they serve. Their plan has been to interview each person served a meal or staying at the facility between March 30 and April 1. They are now contacting the service providers to determine whether they will be open on those dates and whether they would be able to provide a paper listing of census response data for each person served or staying at the facility instead. Lastly, they are delaying the start of Mobile Questionnaire Assistant (MQA). The Bureau was planning to offer assistance at events and locations where people naturally gather as part of our MQA program. However now they have moved the MQA date to April 13.

Although the planned completion date remains July 31, 2020, that date can and will be adjusted if necessary, as the situation dictates in order to achieve a complete and accurate count.

For more information, please contact Stephanie Reyes, Vice President of Public Policy at 210- 299-2162 or by email at sreyes@sachamber.org.

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