SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges for the 2020 Census.
Evan Curtis, State Planning Coordinator for the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, explains how the census is adapting and why it is important for every Utahn to participate.
U.S. Census Bureau suspended field operations for two weeks out of concern about the health and safety of its workers and the public from the novel coronavirus. This resulted in delays in getting questionnaires to residents in rural areas.
Another challenge the census is facing is the movement of the state’s student populations due to colleges and universities shutting down amid virus concerns.
“People aren’t where they would normally be, and of course that can impact how our state is counted. For instance, college students typically would be on campus during the census. Census day is April 1st, and normally all our college students are at their dorms or off-campus housing,” said Curtis. “Unfortunately, because of the coronavirus, many of our students have returned home, and we don’t want that to mess up the count.”
The U.S. Census Bureau asks that students who would normally be in college housing right now be counted for their college residence.
The census is important because funding, political representation, planning and economic development are all decided based on population data.
The deadline for counting everyone in the U.S. has been pushed back by two weeks because of the spreading virus, but the questionnaire is available right now online at census2020.utah.gov.