Census day at the height of the pandemic: coronavirus has moved the timing of the US census

The deadline for the end of the General population census has been shifted from July to August 2020.

April 1 in the United States marked Census Day – this day is considered the official date of the beginning of the general population census, which is held in the country once every ten years. This time, the census came at a time when the country is almost paralyzed due to the spread of the coronavirus. However, the US authorities promise that the work will be completed by the end of the year.

The coronavirus epidemic forced the US Census Bureau to suspend fieldwork for a month in mid-March, presumably until mid-April, when the Bureau plans to re-hire up to 500,000 temporary census takers. The Bureau also delayed the start of the census of homeless people and people living in group housing – for example, in student dormitories and nursing homes. The end of the census was moved from the end of July to the middle of August.

Under Federal law, the Census Bureau is required to send the President the counts that will be used to divide Congressional districts and to delineate state legislative districts by December 31. Perhaps the deadline will also be postponed, as some participants in the process suggested.

Counting began at the end of January in remote areas of Alaska, but all other Americans were able to participate in the census, starting in the second week of March, when the Federal website dedicated to this event was launched, and people began to receive mail notifications with a list of questions that can be answered either by mail, online or by phone.

However, within a week after mailing questionnaires to the governors of many States and many cities began to restrict the movement of the population to slow the spread of the virus, and this greatly hampered the work of copyists: he canceled all meetings and appointments, which the activists usually tell the population about the need to participate in the census.

The Census Bureau has spent $ 500 million on outreach, including advertising, and has engaged more than 300,000 nonprofit organizations, companies, local governments, and community organizations. All of these efforts – and funds – were wiped out by the epidemic of the coronavirus.

It is expected that census takers will begin searching homes whose residents did not answer the census questions at the end of May. Before that, Americans can participate in the census online, by phone, or by sending a completed questionnaire by mail.

As of Monday, more than 36% of households had answered the census questions. According to the Census Bureau, by mid-March, salaries had been transferred to 40,300 temporary census takers.
The 2020 census will help determine how many congressional seats each state will get, count the number of electoral votes in each state, and help distribute Federal spending of about $ 1.5 trillion.

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