COVID-19 Adjustments

Census Bureau Statement on Coronavirus & the 2020 Census

The U.S. Census Bureau is carefully monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and will follow the guidance of federal, state and local health authorities. We have also established the Census Bureau COVID-19 Internal Task Force to continuously monitor the situation and update our Pandemic Addendum to the Census Bureau Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plan. 

Our preparation and contingency planning centers on two key principles: The health and safety of our staff and the public is of the utmost consideration and importance. We must fulfill our constitutional obligation to deliver the 2020 Census counts to the President of the United States on schedule, and we must adhere to our core task of counting everyone once, only once, and in the right place.

The key message right now for anyone with questions about how COVID-19 will affect the 2020 Census: It has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker.

2020 Census Operational Adjustments Due to COVID-19

The 2020 Census is underway and households across America are responding every day. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Census Bureau has adjusted 2020 Census operations in order to:

  • Protect the health and safety of Census Bureau employees and the American public.
  • Implement guidance from federal, state, and local health authorities.
  • Ensure a complete and accurate count of all communities.

The table below summarizes the adjustments to operations. Should any additional adjustment become necessary, the Census Bureau will promptly publish the change in an updated document.

Status of Operational Adjustments (as of March 21, 2020)

Self-Response Phase (online, phone, mail)

The public is strongly encouraged to respond online. (Options for responding by phone or mail are also available.)

  • Planned Schedule: March 12-July 13
  • Adjustment: Extended
  • Revised Schedule: March 12-August 14

Update Leave

Census takers will drop off invitations at the front doors of 5 million households. These households can respond online now—even without their invitation—by providing their address.

  • Planned Schedule: March 15-April 17
  • Adjustment: Delayed
  • Revised Schedule: March 29-May 1

Update Enumerate

Census takers will interview about 2,000 households in remote parts of northern Maine and southeast Alaska. They’re interviewing people outside their home, allowing 6 feet of space between one another.

  • Planned Schedule: March 16-April 30
  • Adjustment: Suspended and extended
  • Revised Schedule: March 16-May 14

Mobile Questionnaire Assistance

Census Bureau staff will assist people with responding online at places such as grocery stores and community centers.

  • Planned Schedule: March 30-July 31
  • Adjustment: Delayed
  • Revised Schedule: April 13-August 14

Early Nonresponse Followup (NRFU)

Census takers will follow up with households that haven’t responded yet around some colleges and universities.

  • Planned Schedule: April 9-July 31
  • Adjustment: Delayed
  • Revised Schedule: May 7-August 14

Nonresponse Followup (NRFU) & NRFU Reinterview

Census takers will interview households in person that have not responded online, by phone, or by mail.

  • Planned Schedule: May 13-July 31
  • Adjustment: Delayed
  • Revised Schedule: May 28-August 14

Group Quarters Enumeration

We’re encouraging administrators of facilities like nursing homes, prisons, and student housing to choose an option for counting their residents that requires less in-person contact.

  • Planned Schedule: April 2-June 5
  • Adjustment: Delayed
  • Revised Schedule: April 16-June 19

Service-Based Enumeration

We’re working with service providers at soup kitchens, shelters, and regularly scheduled food vans to count the people they serve.

  • Planned Schedule: March 30-April 1
  • Adjustment: Delayed
  • Revised Schedule: April 29-May 1

Census counts people experiencing homelessness outdoors

Census takers will count people under bridges, in parks, in all-night businesses, etc.

  • Planned Schedule: April 1
  • Adjustment: Delayed
  • Revised Schedule: May 1

Enumeration of Transitory Locations

Census takers count people staying at campgrounds, RV parks, marinas, and hotels if they do not usually live elsewhere.

  • Planned Schedule: April 9-May 4
  • Adjustment: Delayed
  • Revised Schedule: By December 31

Deliver apportionment counts to the President

By law, the Census Bureau will deliver each state’s population total, which determines its number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

  • Planned Schedule: By December 31
  • Adjustment: On schedule
  • Revised Schedule: By December 31

Deliver redistricting counts to states

By law, the Census Bureau will deliver the local counts each state needs to complete legislative redistricting.

  • Planned Schedule: By April 1, 2021
  • Adjustment: On schedule
  • Revised Schedule: By April 1, 2021

Additional Resources

2020 Census Homepage

2020 Census - News & Events

2020 Census - Monitoring COVID-19

2020 Census - Update on the 2020 Census for College/University Student Housing Administrators

UNCTV - Focus On: Census 2020 (Video)