Coronavirus: Feds announce 2020 Census changes, pauses, revised dates

March 22 2020

Director Dillingham: Field operations suspended until April 1

By RICHARD BAMMER | | Vacaville Reporter

March 21, 2020 at 4:30 p.m.

To no one’s surprise, Census Bureau leaders have announced changes, pauses, and revised dates to the census, the once-a-decade national headcount of all people living in the United States, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, profoundly changing American life, and people are urged to respond online.

Director Steven Dillingham on Wednesday said all bureau field operations were suspended until April 1 (the current end date).

Among other major changes he cited were that census-taker (enumerator) visits would begin in late May. In an online media briefing Friday, census leaders said Update Leave, which provides paper questionnaires for households in remote and rural areas, is suspended through March 29. College students will be counted through their schools, as Dillingham previously announced.

Additionally, Mobile Questionnaire Assistance, a program designed for public places and events to help people respond to the census, is suspended until further notice; the Early Nonresponse Follow-up program is delayed until May 13 and extended through Aug. 14; and the regular Nonresponse program, a much larger operation, is delayed until May 13 and also extended to Aug. 14.

The last day to respond to the census has been changed from July 31 to Aug. 14. All responses are kept confidential, as required by law.

Bureau leaders have long pointed out that the decennial census, mandated by the Constitution and first conducted in 1790, is an important key to the quality of life for an estimated 330,000,000 Americans, because federal officials determine annual spending of more than $670 billion — for hospitals, schools, emergency services, infrastructure, roads and highways and more — based on census data from all 50 states, tribal governments, and five U.S. territories. However, the primary purpose of the census is to apportion seats in the House of Representatives.

Josh Green, an East Bay-based media specialist for the Census Bureau, noted on Friday additional information not in Dillingham’s last prepared statement:

The count for people experiencing homelessness (which the Census Bureau also calls “service-based enumeration”) will be postponed from March 30 to April 1 to April 29 to May 1, “but it is moving forward,” Green explained, adding that field deployment to count the homeless is set for April 30.

Census employees will be paid during this suspension of operations, and working at home wherever possible, he added in an email sent to media outlets.

Enumerators, most of whom will not be deployed until late May, will receive all training online and will not be allowed to gather at the offices in groups of more than 10, accord with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Green encouraged Solano residents to respond to the census as soon as possible using the three available methods: online at, by phone or by regular mail.

He also said job applications will be accepted for the foreseeable future at, but all hiring and employment-related activities (fingerprinting, filling out paperwork in person) are suspended until April 1.

As of Friday morning, nearly 19 million households had responded to the census, which is on track with Bureau predictions, Green pointed out.

To check the live response rate, updated every day at noon PST, visit

At the site, as of Saturday noon PST, the national self-response rate was 16.7 percent; the California rate 16.9 percent; the Solano County rate 18.8 percent (the final self-response rate in 2010 was 67.9 percent).

By Solano city to date, the self-response rates are Vacaville, at 22.4 percent (with the final self-response rate in 2010 was 70.9 percent); Vallejo 18 percent (final self-response rate in 2010 was 65.1 percent); Dixon 21.3 percent (final self-response rate in 2010 was 76.8 percent); and Fairfield 15.6 percent (final self-response rate in 2010 was 67.6  percent).

Contact Reporter Staff Writer Richard Bammer at 453-8164. Article from The Reporter.