The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the U.S. Census Bureau to close field offices and delay any door-to-door census interviews until April. The bureau warns that there may be more delays and adjustments as the pandemic develops.
To complete the 2020 census, the bureau is asking people to respond quickly when they receive their census packets in the mail. They can also do so online by going to 2020Census.gov, but will need the complete physical address of their residence or the 12-digit number from the packet that they receive in the mail. People can respond and fill out the form online, but must do so in one sitting. They can also call the number listed in the invitation, but need to be prepared for a long wait because the bureau has reduced its staff to protect them and the public from the pandemic.
So far, 140 million census forms have been sent out to households nationwide. Twenty-two percent of those forms have been filled out. The Alaskan response rate is half the national average, with only 11 percent of Alaskan households having responded to the mailed census form so far.
The statewide group Alaska Counts has been advocating for a strong community-based effort in rural communities with community-based census takers. Many worry that the pandemic will make it tough to get the count needed in rural villages. The national census is used to allocate federal funds and programs. Alaska Counts says that without a good count, Alaskans will not get their fair share.