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Census and COVID-19

What is the impact of COVID-19 on the 2020 Census?

census & COVID-19Participation in the Census is a vital investment in the long-term health and well-being of our communities, and provides foundational data used by experts to respond to public health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. By completing your 2020 Census, you can ensure that your community has the strong public health infrastructure necessary to respond and take action for years to come.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional means of census outreach, such as sending enumerators door-to-door and organizing Census Questionnaire Assistance Centers in communities, are no longer options. 

Below, find information and tools designed to help communities continue 2020 Census outreach efforts and stay updated on operational changes due to COVID-19. 

Get other 2020 Census Resources

The U.S. Census Bureau, in coordination with federal, state and local health officials, will begin to drop off 2020 Census questionnaire packets at front doors of 77,400 households in the state of ARKANSAS this week. This is done in areas where the majority of households do not receive mail at their physical address. The Census Bureau began hand-delivering census materials on March 15, but suspended all fieldwork for this operation on March 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each week, we will determine which offices can begin ramping up again, and we’ll keep the public informed.

Temporary field staff from Area Census Offices in Fayetteville and Little Rock, AR have been trained to observe all social distancing protocols and will wear official government-provided personal protective equipment for their safety and the safety of the public. This operation is contactless and follows the most current federal health and safety guidelines.

In states where we’ve resumed the Update Leave operation, we’re are also resuming fingerprinting for new hires to keep applicants moving through the hiring process. We will also notify local law enforcement, key stakeholders, and local media that field staff will be in the area. 

The health and safety of Census Bureau staff and the public is always a top priority.  This operation is crucial to ensure a complete and accurate count of all communities, which helps guide hundreds of billions of dollars in public and private sector spending per year.

People are strongly encouraged to respond promptly to the 2020 Census using the ID number included in the questionnaire packet. Responding with a census ID or the paper questionnaire helps ensure the best count of their community. People can respond online, by phone or by using the paper form in the packet.

Field Operations (Suspended Until June 1) Based on continuing assessments of guidance from federal, state and local health authorities, the U.S. Census Bureau has suspended 2020 Census field operations until June 1, 2020. The Census Bureau is taking this step to help protect the health and safety of the American public, Census Bureau employees, and everyone who will go through the hiring process for temporary census taker positions. 

Self-response (Extended until October 31) The public is encouraged to respond online, via phone or via mail from March 12-October 31.

Census Takers (Extended from August 11–October 31) Census takers will interview households in person that have not responded online, by phone, or by mail starting in August until October 31.

Learn more visiting the U.S. Census Bureau's website

College Students

Even though it's unclear how long college campuses will be closed due to COVID-19, college students should be counted where they live most of the time under normal circumstances. For most, this is on campus. If they normally live on campus then they will be automatically be counted by their college through a system called Group Quarters. This means, they do not have to take action because their college will work directly with the U.S. Census Bureau to report them. If uncertainty remains in the respondent's mind and they cannot determine where they live most of the time based on these rules, then they should be counted where they reside on April 1st.  

Group Quarters

The U.S. Census Bureau is working closely with colleges, universities, service providers, transitional shelters, nursing homes, and correctional facilities to ensure individuals dwelling in institutional group quarters are counted, especially if they have been impacted or displaced by COVID-19.

Learn more visiting the U.S. Census Bureau's website

Almost 5% of households receive their census invitation when a census taker drops it off. In these areas, the majority of households may not receive mail at their home’s physical location (like households that use PO boxes or areas recently affected by natural disasters). These invitations will include a 12-digit ID number and directions on how to complete the 2020 Census online, by phone, or via mail.

However, since the U.S. Census Bureau has suspended field operations, these invitations may not be delivered. If your mail is normally delivered to your PO Box, and you haven't received your census invitation, you can complete your census online at or by calling 844-330-2020.

You do not NEED the 12-digit ID number to complete your 2020 Census online. Click the "If you do not have a Census ID, click here" button located directly under the login button on the second page.

If you do not complete your census online or by phone then you might encounter a census taker at your door when field operations resume when it's safe. 

Watch this video to learn more about completing your 2020 Census online 

The U.S. Census Bureau has suspended field operations until June 1. Census Takers will not begin conducting door-to-door, in-person interviews until it is safe. According to the new operational guidelines they aim to resume operations in August and continue until October 31, 2020.

The only reason a Census Taker will come to your home is if you have not completed your 2020 Census. To prevent the physical presence of a Census Taker at your home, complete your 2020 Census ASAP at or by calling 844-330-2020.

The 2020 Census data determines how more than $675 billion in federal funds will be distributed to the states each year to support a variety of health, education, and infrastructure initiatives and programs.

For example, data from the Census determines how the federal government will allocate funding to the states for the National School Lunch Program and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Undercounts on the Census will result in less federal funding for these critical programs and services for the next decade. In Arkansas a 1% undercount could result in the loss of $1 billion, that's $33,000 per person over the span of 10 years.

Participation in the Census is a vital investment in the long-term education, health and well-being of our communities. It also provides important foundational data that experts use to respond to public health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more about the federally funded programs here

Although field operations have been suspended, the majority of recently hired Census Enumerators are still employed by the U.S. Census Bureau and are awaiting field operations to resume.

In the meantime, the U.S. Census Bureau is working to ensure these employees are properly on-boarded, trained and prepared to commence enumerating efforts when it's safe.

Are you curious about how your county’s response rate ranks? Check out the 2020 Census response rate map below and see where your community stands.