Census Bureau Adjusts to COVID-19 Pandemic

March 26, 2020

Note: This is the fourth in a series of five The Valued Voice articles about the U.S. Census and why it’s important for health care.

February 13: Growing Focus on Complete Census Count is Important for Health Care
March 12:  Census Basics: Decennial Census Timeline and Census Bureau Tools
March 19:  How Census Bureau Data is Used by Federal Health Care Programs
March 26: Census Bureau Adjusts to COVID-19 Pandemic
April 2:  Have You Responded to the Census Yet, and Hard-to-Count Areas in Wisconsin

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted all areas of life in Wisconsin, the U.S. and around the world. This U.S. Census update will focus briefly on actions taken by the Census Bureau last week to adjust to the pandemic. The March 18 press release can be found here.
Key points from the Census Bureau include:
  • Census Bureau field operations are suspended. This includes delaying a mobile questionnaire assistance program and the early non-response follow-up operation that follows up with households around some colleges and universities that haven’t responded yet.  
  • Everyone should respond to the 2020 Census as soon as they receive their invitation. The easiest way to participate in the census is online, by mail or by telephone. This will avoid having a Census Bureau worker make in-person contact with non-respondents, which will begin in late May unless the COVID-19 pandemic requires a delay.
  • The planned completion date for data collection for the 2020 Census of July 31, 2020, can and will be adjusted if necessary as the situation evolves in order to achieve a complete and accurate count.
  • The Census Bureau is contacting all group quarters administrators (for nursing homes, college dorms, prisons and other institutional living facilities) that have requested an in-person visit and asking them to consider an eResponse or offering to drop off and later pick up paper forms to minimize in-person contact with census staff.
WHA’s contact for census-related issues is Vice President of Policy Development Laura Rose.

This story originally appeared in the March 26, 2020 edition of WHA Newsletter