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Census Bureau adapts to COVID-19

(WCAX)
Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 10:19 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The U.S. Census Bureau has been changing some operations to ensure community safety from COVID-19.

The U.S. Census Bureau says it is continuing to monitor the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on 2020 Census operations and changes are being made to make sure the staff and community are safe while also reaching the most households it can to respond to the census.

“We are taking steps and adapting our operations to make sure everyone is counted while keeping everyone safe,” said Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham. “Our commitment to a complete and accurate 2020 Census is absolute. In this challenging environment, we are deploying these tactics to make sure we reach every household in every community. If you haven’t responded, the time to respond is now! Responding to the 2020 Census online, on paper, by phone, or in-person with a census taker helps secure vital resources for your community.”

The Bureau says as of Friday, Aug. 14, over 63.5% of households have responded to the 2020 Census and residents are still able to respond online, over the phone or by mail without having to meet with a census taker.

According to the Bureau, in order to enhance their ability to reach households, it is training census takers to reach out by phone. It says using the information provided and third-party purchased data, it has a strong contact list for both landlines and cellphones assigned to houses on its address list.

The Bureau says the phone calls will allow it to maximize its flexibility for conducting field operations and is another method census takers can use to reach households that are not responding. It says if a voicemail is available, census takers will leave a message asking the resident to call one of the Bureau’s call centers.

The Census Bureau says census takers have begun followups with households throughout the nation and will continue to followup with non-responding households in person while following CDC and local public health guidelines.

According to the Bureau, if no one is home when census takers visit, the taker will leave a “Notice of Visit” with information on how to respond onlineby phone or by mail encouraging responses. It says during tests the “Notice of Visit” was proven successful in encouraging people to respond on their own to the census.

The Bureau says to encourage more residents to respond on their own, it is contacting nonresponding households by mailing a paper questionnaire to some that have not responded yet.

The Bureau says it is sending a seventh mailing that includes the questionnaire in late August to early September to lowest responding census tracts.

The Census Bureau says it has also recently announced households in low responding areas will be receiving emails encouraging their response to the 2020 Census.

According to the Bureau, the emails go directly to all households it has contact information for in block groups with a response rate that is lower than 50%. It says this includes households who may have responded to the census already. It says in total it expects to email over 20 million households in low responding areas. It says the email messages will come from 2020census@subscriptions.census.gov and will give those that receive it the to option to opt-out of future messages.

The Bureau says it is using email addresses that have been provided in response to another Census Bureau program or received from states or from a commercial list.

The Bureau says it is also increasing efforts by encouraging all residents to respond to the census online., by phone or by mail. It says it recently announced the launch of its Mobile Questionnaire Assistance program offering help with responding at locations like grocery stores and pharmacies in low responding areas.

The Bureau says additionally, it has expanded its paid advertising by launching a new advertisement series aimed at increasing online responses. It says now 45 non-English languages are getting some level of paid media support.

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