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2020 Census Operational Adjustments Due to COVID-19

We’re adapting or delaying some of our operations to protect the health and safety of our staff and the public and make sure we get the same population counted another way.


In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Census Bureau is continually adjusting 2020 Census operations in order to:

  • Protect the health and safety of the American public and Census Bureau employees.
  • Implement guidance from Federal, State, and local authorities regarding COVID-19.
  • Ensure a complete and accurate count of all communities.

To help the Census Bureau continue to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, the White House Office of Management and Budget recently submitted a supplemental request of $1 billion for the 2020 Census. This funding would allow for supplemental hiring, pay incentives, additional outreach and advertising, and replenished contingency funding to provide needed flexibility as the Census Bureau conducts its largest component of the field operation, Nonresponse Followup. This flexibility is critical to helping us operate in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis, including accelerated efforts to conduct our field data collection as quickly, and safely as possible, while ensuring a complete and accurate count and a timely delivery of quality data.  

Since the suspension of field operations in mid-March, the Census Bureau has continually assessed our operational plans, taking into account Federal, state and local guidance, and the status of COVID-19 cases to ensure that we can safely fulfill our mission. Our continuing rigorous analysis led to a phased restart that began in May, and a soft launch of the Nonresponse Follow-up operation that began early in a number of area census offices in mid-July. The supplemental request is an extension of our effort to ensure we are ready to adapt to challenges in the environment.

On August 3, 2020, Census Bureau Director Steve Dillingham released a statement on recent updates to the 2020 Census operational plan.

Census Takers Are Following Up with Nonresponding Households

Component ID: #ti1476856564

Starting July 16, census takers will begin interviewing households that have yet to respond to the 2020 Census in regions managed by the area census offices on this map.

In subsequent weeks, the Census Bureau will announce additional census offices as it prepares to begin enumeration activities nationwide. The majority of census offices across the country will begin follow-up work on August 11.

The Census Bureau is working to complete data collection as quickly and safely as possible, while ensuring a complete and accurate count as it strives to comply with the law and statutory deadlines. All offices are schedule to complete their work by September 30, 2020.

Census takers will follow local public health guidelines when they visit.  Learn more at Census Takers In Your Neighborhood.

Review of 2020 Census Operational Plan

This presentation updates partners, stakeholders and the public on 2020 Census operational changes.

Status of Current Operations

Self-Response Phase

Online, phone and mailed self-responses continue throughout the data collection process.

Planned Schedule

March 12 – July 31

Revised Schedule

March 12 - September 30, 2020

Nonresponse Followup (NRFU)

Census takers will interview households in person. New dates will cover areas previously scheduled for "Early NRFU."

Planned Schedule

May 13 – July 31

Revised Schedule

The Census Bureau began soft-launching NRFU on July 16, 2020, and it will soon be underway across the entire country. All area census offices will complete their work by September 30, 2020.

Group Quarters (E-Response & Paper Enumeration)

Many group quarters have already begun responding through our e-Response enumeration option.

Planned Schedule

April 2 – June 5

Revised Schedule

April 2 – September 3

Remote Alaska

Early operation to reach parts of Alaska which may be difficult to reach later in the year and whose populations depart for other activities. The operation will be mostly completed on the original planned schedule, though some areas with year-round populations will be enumerated when it is safe to do so. 

Planned Schedule

January 21 – April 30

Revised Schedule

January 21 – August 31

Island Areas

Census takers interview households in American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This operation is coordinated with the local Island Areas governments. Census takers use paper questionnaires to interview households.

Planned Schedule

February 3 - June 30

Revised Schedule

February 3 - September 30

Field Offices at Peak Operations 

Managers and staff commence administrative, training, deployment and support activities for peak data collection operations.  This includes selecting and hiring field staff. 

Planned Schedule

March 1

Revised Schedule

Phased re-opening occurred between May 4 and June 12.

Update Leave - Stateside

Census takers drop off invitations to respond and paper questionnaires at the front doors of 5 million households stateside while updating the addresses.

Planned Schedule

March 15 – April 17

Revised Schedule

Phased re-opening occurred between May 4 and June 12.

Update Leave – Puerto Rico

Update Leave operations for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, approximately 1.7 million households, will be coordinated separately. 

Planned Schedule

March 15 – April 17

Revised Schedule

May 22

Update Enumerate

Census takers interview about 2,000 households in remote parts of northern Maine and southeast Alaska.

Planned Schedule

March 16 – April 30

Revised Schedule

June 14 – July 29

In-Person Group Quarters Enumeration

Group Quarters that remain as part of our in-person group quarters enumeration efforts will begin in July.

Planned Schedule

April 2 – June 5

Revised Schedule

July 1 – September 3

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

Revised Schedule

September 22 - September 24

Mobile Questionnaire Assistance

Census Bureau staff assists people with responding online at places people gather (events, grocery stores, etc.).

Planned Schedule

March 30 – July 31

Revised Schedule

To be completed on September 30

Count of People experiencing homelessness outdoors

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

Planned Schedule

April 1

Revised Schedule

September 23 - September 24

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

Revised Schedule

September 3 – September 28

Process Apportionment Counts

After collection activities are complete, Census Bureau experts run and review output from programs to unduplicate responses, determine final housing unit status, populate any missing housing unit data on household size and finalize the universe to be included in the apportionment count file.

The statutory deadline to provide apportionment counts is December 31, 2020.

Process Redistricting Data 

Census Bureau experts run and review programs to populate any missing demographic data for each household, run differential privacy programs to ensure confidentiality and run tabulation programs for each state delivery.

The statutory deadline to provide redistricting data is March 31, 2021.

Press Kit: COVID-19

The Census Bureau continues to carefully monitor the COVID-19 situation and follow the guidance of federal, state, and local health authorities.