COVID 19 Impact on Census

Latest Updates

**This situation is still very fluid – the Census Bureau has moved dates, and we are anticipating additional changes as the COVID-19 situation progresses across the country.**


5/19/20: 59.6% national response rate – no change. The Hard to Count map displays borders for regions covered by each Area Census Office (ACO), which will help with figuring out which areas’ recipients should see packets left at their homes in the coming weeks., then go to the top right hand corner, and use the BLUE menu to drop down to select Area Census Office, then you can click on the map at your location to determine what ACO you are in and compare it to the ACO opening list here.

Update for 5/18/20: 59.6% response rate nationally. No map movement.

5/18/20: 11 more states (AZ*, CO, IN, IA, LA, NE, NV, NM*, NY*, RI, and WY) and Puerto Rico are resuming some field operations. Please note that there are three states (marked with an asterisk) where some, but not all, ACOs are restarting operations.  The Census Bureau’s update and the list of states are available on the Census Bureau’s website. For areas where Census operations are resuming, it would be helpful to let customers know to check their front porches, or even just to expect Census Bureau people are coming around. They will NOT be knocking on the doors or engaging in conversations, just dropping materials, and they have been provisioned with masks and hand sanitizer. For the areas that are resuming Update/Leave operations, where Census Bureau employees hand drop packets at doors, questions are starting to come in about whether or not households should fill out the form again if they have already completed a Non-Id response. Households should only complete the Census form once, with or without a Non-ID response. The Census will be dropping packets at all doors on the Update/Leave lists, even if they have already responded, so it can get confusing. The only reason to complete a second form would be to add someone that was left off. We aren’t sure there needs to be a concerted effort to inform people of this, but if you get that question, we wanted you to have the answer.

5/17/20: 59.5% national response rate. No states tipped into the next bracket, so no movement on the map. Just an FYI, we use two maps to give these updates – the first, CUNY’s interactive mapping system, which we’ve been using a lot. This is where you can check out your census tract level data for the day. We’re also using Census Bureau itself, which has data available by date, so you can see how your area has changed since March 12th (they also track Puerto Rico, which CUNY doesn’t seem to do).

5/16/20: 59.4% response rate nationally. Florida, Kentucky, Utah, Connecticut all reached above 63% response rates. Puerto Rico is at 8.2%.

5/15/20: 59.3% nationwide response rate. Today, the Census Bureau announced that they will restart operations on May 18 in 11 additional states (AZ*, CO, IN, IA, LA, NE, NV, NM*, NY*, RI, and WY) and Puerto Rico.  Please note that there are three states (marked with an asterisk) where some, but not all, ACOs are restarting operations.  The Census Bureau’s update and the list of states are available on the Census Bureau’s website.  The bureau will start dropping census invitation packets at the front doors of rural households and households that don’t normally receive mail at home (known as the Update/Leave operation). Area Census Office staff will begin returning to the office to support this operation as well as to complete the hiring process for Non-Response Follow-Up. A list of specific states and ACOs is available here. New communication plans are coming out soon from the Census Bureau, and it looks like they will be employing traditional and digital ads on small, micro-targeted areas with low response rates. We are encouraging agencies in these areas to let customers know to look for Census packets on their doorstep. Self response is the best way to answer the Census – online or over the phone.

5/14/20: 59.1% national response rate. Maryland hits 63.1% and turns deeper blue. We have a new digital Rural Toolkit to help reach areas that the Census Bureau hasn’t been able to engage with yet:

5/13/20: 59% nationwide response. Alabama is the only state to increase enough to reach the next tier, 57.1% earns them a deeper blue shade.

5/12/20: 58.7% national response. Minnesota is the first state to hit 69% self-response, and turns a darker blue on the map. Delaware hits 57%.

5/11/20: 58.6% national response rate, no map movement. Puerto Rico hits 8%, Alaska in striking distance of 40%. Hoping to see bumps from rural states that are starting to get their door dropped invitation packets in the next weeks.

5/10/20: 58.5% national response rate. Kansas hits 63%, turns a darker blue.

5/9/20: 58.3%, no map movement.

5/8/20: 58.1% national response rate. The Census Bureau has just released more specific areas where the drop off of census packets to update/ leave households will resume. Find an update and some resources below. Today’s announcement noted that operations will ramp up in an additional 54 ACOs across nine new states starting next Wednesday: FL, GA, KS, KY, MO, NC, OR, PA, and WA. This is in addition to the 13 states (AK, AL, AR, ID, ME, MS, MT, ND, OK, TN, UT, VT, and WV) that resumed operations this week. The announcement is here and the full revised operational schedule is here.

There’s a new resource available for completing the census if you’ve lost or didn’t receive your ID. This resource shows how to navigate through the online and phone options without an ID. Please feel free to reach out with questions.

5/7/20: 57.7% national response rate. Washington state and Tennessee both tip over into a darker blue, over 63% each. No other movement. Puerto Rico at 7.8%, Alaska 38.3%. West Virginia, 45.2%, Maine 48.1%, Vermont 48.8%, Montana 49.2%, Wyoming 48.2, all inching closer to the next range.

5/6/20: 57.3%. North Dakota tips over 57%, turns darker blue. Oklahoma tips over 51% and goes from orange to blue. All of the south half of the US is now over 51%, except for New Mexico, which is dragging behind at 45.1.%

5/5/20: 56.8% nationwide response. No map color changes. Puerto Rico at 7.7%, trailing everyone, Alaska at 37.65, second to last.

5/4/20: 56.6% national response rate. South Dakota hit 57.1%, and turned a darker shade on the map. Resuming Field Operations – Press Release.

The Census Bureau will be announcing today that some field operations, specifically Update/ Leave and Hiring, will resume in some areas of some states on Wednesday of this week.  The Census Bureau determined the states and areas within states where it believes U/L can resume safely by evaluating: the operating status of the state;  governors’ SIP orders; assessment of staff and readiness; and trends of COVID 19 cases going downwards. Notably, the Bureau has adjusted its Update/Leave operation in light of public health guidance to remove the “door knock.” This means that field staff WILL NOT knock on a household’s door to verify the address; rather, they will just hand-deliver census packets (Internet Choice version) and place on  the doorknob. They will try to do an inspection of the property “by sight” to determine if there are other “hidden” housing units to add to the master address list. U/L staff also “spot” the location of the housing unit on a digital map. The full update and the list of states will be posted to the Census Bureau’s website today at Going forward, every Friday as warranted, the Bureau will post additional areas where U/L will resume the following Wednesday. Finally, the Bureau is evaluating ways to resume the hiring process, most notably by resuming the fingerprinting process, in the coming days and weeks, in areas where public safety measures and guidelines permit.

5/3/20: 56.3% nationwide. Texas, Arkansas, South Carolina all tip over 50%, turning light blue. Michigan hits 63.1%, moving to the next darker shade of blue on the map.

5/2/20: 56% nationwide. Nebraska and California tip over 63% to turn darker blue. North Carolina hits 51.3% and turns light blue. Alaska reaches 37%  and Puerto Rico reaches 7.5% (without normal operations/invitations!)

4/30/20: 54.6% nationwide. Here’s an update for the Census Bureau’s paid media buys.

4/29/20: 54.6%. Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky and Idaho all cross the 57% threshold. Minnesota is just shy of 65% and continues to lead the nation in self response. Puerto Rico is at 7.2%

4/28/20: 54.3% nationwide response rate. The reminder post card that got sent out starting 4/27 through 5/9 might cause some confusion, since it mentions people will come knock doors for non-responsive households. If questions arise, we can tell people that enumerators won’t start door knocking until August.

4/27/20: 53.2% nationwide response, but no states moved up a color tier on the maps. *there are rumblings of some phone operators asking for User IDs, which is not correct. Anyone should be able to respond over the phones without a User ID, just like online. If you hear about this, please email Lindsay immediately with as many details about who received push back, when, what phone language line etc.* We are encouraging rural areas, PO Boxes to fill out the Census before they get their invitations, which is contrary to the Census Bureau’s guidance for those areas to wait for their invitations. We understand the usefulness of the User ID, however, we do not want to risk losing possible momentum.

4/26/20: 53.2% nationwide. Colorado hits 57%, as do Ohio and Indian. Florida joins Alabama in the south at over 51%. Puerto Rico at 6.9%, Alaska at 35.4%. We know these numbers are low because door to door is how these remote parts of the US are counted, and invitations haven’t been delivered in PO Box or rural areas.

4/25/20: 52.8% nationwide. Illinois reaches 57%, Minnesota turns darker blue with 63.5%, continuing to lead the nation. Alabama hits the 51.1% – they’ve been working VERY hard, and they are the first southern state to reach this milestone!

4/24/20: Lots more darker blue today! 52.4% nationwide response; Utah, Virginia and Kansas join the leaders between 57-62%. Census Bureau Small Business/COVID 19 surveys started to go out over email. We expect this to confuse people; push back did cause the Census to change some of the language to make this more clear, but people might confuse this survey with the decennial Census.  Puerto Rico has a .4% jump to 6.6%.

4/23/20: 51.8% nationwide response. New Mexico tips over 41%. Puerto Rico at 6.2%. Washington state hits over 56%, joining the state leaders of Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, all between 57-62%.

4/22/20: 51.6% response rate nationwide.

4/21/20: Mailer 5, a reminder postcard, has been pushed back and will go out April 27th – May 9th.

4/20/20: Paper forms are still being sent out. This process has been elongated and will continue through the end of April. Reminding people to check their mailboxes is useful. We are still waiting for Congress to act on the Census Bureau’s request to extend data collection to October 31, 2020, however the Census Bureau has been operating under the new deadlines. 50.7% nationwide response. Wisconsin moves to next tier with 57.1%. Puerto Rico hits 6%.

4/19/20: Nationwide response hit 50.5%. South Dakota has crossed 51%, Maine crosses 41%. Puerto Rico sitting at 5.9%.

4/18/20: 50.2% nationwide response rate. California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Dakota are now over 51%; Vermont moves over 40%.

4/17/20: 49.8% nationwide. Massachusetts crosses into light blue with 51.1%, Missouri with 51.2%. Wyoming crosses 41%.

4/16/20: 49.4% nationwide, Connecticut crosses into light blue with 51.2%

4/15/20: 49.1% response rate. Kentucky crosses 50%, Montana over 41%.

4/14/20: Hawaii, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, West Virginia, Vermont, Maine all lagging behind nationwide response between 31-40%. Puerto Rico at 5.2% response. Minnesota still leads the nation at 58.1% response. The Bureau has adjusted timeline to reflect the new dates.

4/13/20: BREAKING NEWS: Census Bureau has issued additional updates:

Field offices currently scheduled to be reactivated beginning June 1, 2020, in preparation for the resumption of field data collection operations as quickly as possible following June 1.

Census is requesting an additional 120 days from Congress to deliver final data. If approved by Congress, this would extend self-response and door knocking follow up to 10/31. *THIS IS NOT FINAL, but has been proposed, and is a dramatic shift. Please stay tuned to this site to follow news as it happens*

48.1% national response, Wyoming and Montana have both reached over 50%. Alaska, New Mexico, Maine, Vermont, West Virginia and Puerto Rico all lag farthest behind. *these are statewide; many states are struggling on county levels, even if overall, their states are responding*

4/12/20: 47.9% of national households have responded. Maryland and Delaware have both reached over 50%. Puerto Rico has reached 5%.

4/11/20: 47.5% response. Idaho, Colorado, and Oregon all cross the 50% threshold.

4/10/20: 47.1% nationwide response rate. Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Maine, Vermont, West Virginia and Alaska all lag, although Alaska finally broke 30%. Puerto Rico is last with only 4.7% of households responding. Indiana crosses 50%. Minnesota is still leading the nation with 56.6% responding.

4/9/20: 46.7% response rate nationwide. MN has hit the next bracket, a darker blue, at 56%. The Census has not changed any dates or operations in a week. The response rate is significantly lower in rural areas and tribal areas, especially in Alaska, New Mexico and Arizona, because the Update/Leave operation of the Census (bureau employees hand drop invitations at homes) has not yet taken place. Ohio, Kansas and Illinois all crossed 50%.

4/8/20: 46.2% Paper forms are starting to hit for people who haven’t yet filled out their Census, so we can hope that gives us another national bump. Utah and Washington state rise over the 50% threshold. Puerto Rico lags behind everywhere else with only 4.6% having responded.

4/7/20: 45.7% nationwide response rate. Washington, Utah, Kansas, Illinois join MN, WI, MI, NE, IA and VA to cross the 50% threshold. Northern Midwest states continue to lead the country. Alaska response rate hits 29.4%, the lowest in the country.

4/6/20: 45.1% nationwide response rate. Virginia and Iowa hit +50%. More Census Bureau in-person operation delays  — all field operations are now delayed until at least April 15th. There are some instances, like door to door enumeration, that has a new projected start day of May 28th.  On the Census Bureau phone lines, Virtual Call backs have been suspended. The Census Bureau hopes they will be available again shortly. For now, there are long wait lines on the phones.

If people are uncomfortable doing the survey online and there are long wait times on the phones, waiting a week until paper forms hit mailboxes might be the best course of action.

Update/Leave operations have been suspended, which means that areas where forms are being hand delivered (tribal areas, PO Boxes, unreliable mail service etc). aren’t getting their packets. This means that large swaths of rural America have yet to be invited to fill out their census forms.

4/5/20: 44.5% nationwide response rate with Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota leading the states. Alaska continues to trail behind at only 28.7%.

4/4/20: 43.9% nationwide response rate, with Michigan joining MN in reaching above 50%

4/3/20: 42.8% nationwide response rate, with Minnesota being the first state to cross the 50% threshold at 51.8% responding

4/2/20: 41.3% response rate as of 4/2, Call Centers have been impacted by the COVID pandemic causing longer wait times. The best/fastest way to complete the 2020 census remains filling it out online, Census Bureau statement.

4/1/20: 41.3% response rate – Census Day activities are hopefully going to boost numbers, as we all push for self response

3/30/20: Response rate nationwide is 34.7% – increase of 2% a day

3/28/20: The Census Bureau has suspended field operations for an additional two weeks in light of the COVID 19 pandemic. The new estimated date for resumption of those activities is April 15, however that may change as this fluid situation progresses. Press Release

3/23/20: 21% of the population has responded to the Census!

Current Message for the Public: The Census is happening, and it’s important. It’s also easy to fill out online, at or over the phones: 844-330-2020

RUMOR ALERT: Stimulus checks will NOT be tied to Census participation. The Bureau added it to its rumors page, which means that it’s worth addressing in a targeted fashion.

3/21/20: Here are two PDFs that outline the Census Bureau’s changes


Census Bureau press release from 3/19 is here:

  • The deadline for self response online, by phone or by returning the paper questionnaire has been extended to August 14 (from July 31).
  • The Update/Leave operation, which is the hand-delivery of census packets to about 6.2 million primarily rural households, plus most (not all) American Indian reservations, is now on pause until April 1 at the earliest.
  • Group Quarters and Service-based Enumeration, which is one of the operations counting people experiencing homelessness, will be delayed until late April/ early May (date TBD).
  • Hiring and training of new 2020 Census staff:
    • The required fingerprinting of candidates applying for 2020 Census jobs has been paused for health reasons, meaning further on-boarding and training of new census field staff will be delayed.
    • In-person training of Census Bureau staff has been suspended. The Bureau is working to shift all training on-line, including virtual meetings. Fortunately, much of the training already was on-line.
  • Nonresponse Follow-up:
    • The start of Early Nonresponse Follow-up, which are in-person visits to households that haven’t self-responded yet in communities with large off-campus college student populations, has been delayed to May 7.
    • The start date of Non Response Follow Up, which is the door to door enumeration of all households that did respond to the census has been delayed to May 27. The end of this operation has been delayed to August 14.
  • The Mobile Questionnaire Assistance operation has been put on pause for two weeks and will be reevaluated after that period.
  • The American Community Survey and other surveys have discontinued in-person visits to households that don’t self-respond on-line or using a paper questionnaire. (Note: Under the ACS design, only a sample of nonresponding households receive a follow-up visit.) All 9,000 field representatives working on the ACS and other ongoing surveys are working to make connections by phone instead.