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2020 Census Kicks Off Today Despite Pandemic

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Representatives of LA-based community organizations are promoting census participation in historically undercounted populations—despite the coronavirus outbreak. (Robert Garrova/LAist)
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The 2020 Census has begun.

Homes across the U.S. are now receiving mailers inviting them to participate. But there's no question that there have been some complications in recent days.

A census kick-off event in Downtown LA was planned for this morning, but was cancelled over coronavirus concerns. Still, community members showed up — even though most elected officials expected to speak weren’t there.

“The threat of today cannot hurt us for the next decade because of a poorly executed census,” said Efrain Escobedo, vice president of California Community Foundation, which offers funding and outreach support to local organizations for census outreach.

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Escobedo said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic goes beyond one census event being cancelled. Instead of in-person canvassing of populations at risk of being undercounted, outreach teams are shifting to phone banking, and one-on-one meetings.

“That means more work, but I think we’re prepared to do it.”

HOW IT WORKS
  • While most people are getting mailers asking them to respond online, there are two types. The mailer you get depends on your area’s response history.
  • Some areas in L.A. may also receive a Spanish version and paper questionnaire.
  • If there’s no response, the notification process can continue to late April with up to five mailed attempts.
  • Homes must respond by April 30 if they don’t want to have an enumerator — literally a person employed to take the census — come to their door.
  • The last day to respond to the 2020 Census is July 31.

Individuals can get assistance in 13 languages total, including English, on the phone. All census mailers will include a sheet with toll-free numbers for these languages so homes can call them to ask questions or give their answers over the phone. Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau has created tailored videos and language guides for completing the census online.

This year the census will be conducted primarily online for the first time. So starting today, Americans are encouraged to visit the census website to fill out the count—even if they’re in quarantine.

Have Questions about the 2020 census? Ask us here.