RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - After a week of data collection operations amidst the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus strain the U.S. Census Bureau announced Wednesday that it will be suspending it’s field operations for two weeks until April 1, 2020. It’s part of an effort to slow the spread of the illness which has killed thousands internationally and infected over nearly one hundred people in Virginia.
“We want our employees and the American households to be safe first and foremost,” said the bureau’s media specialist Tasha Chambers. “As of now we don’t know exactly when that will take place. But again we are adjusting in response to COVID-19.”
In the meantime, the Census Bureau is encouraging people to fill out the data collection either by phone or computer. 2020 will mark the first time ever in the Census Bureaus history, where people have the option of submitting their data by computer, phone or mail.
Census invitation letters are currently being mailed out to homes across the nation which have directions for how individuals can fill out theirs online.
Chambers says the longer people wait to fill out the forms by computer, phone or mail, the more the census bureau will have to rely on door-to-door data collection which could be risky amidst the quarantining efforts due to the spread of coronavirus.
“There are so many ways you can still complete the census form without having to have physical contact with a census taker,” said Chambers. “We will adapt as necessary, but again in instances like this it really demonstrates the importance of how the census data informs our public safety.”
According to the Census Bureau, over 675 billion dollars will be redistributed back into communities for services like hospitals, schools, community-based organizations, roadways, based on the community’s population count.
On March 15, 2020, the Census Bureau announced changes to its group quarters operations to accommodate recent scheduling changes at the college level.
The Bureau also says it will begin using phone calls instead of personal visits for all other household and economic surveys outside of the 2020 census to limit the number of person-to-person visits amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.
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