Census 2020 extending deadline amid COVID-19


Laasya Achanta

The 2020 Census self-response deadline has been postponed from July 31 to Aug. 14. The census is sent out every 10 years and it collects data used to form congressional alignments and federal funding distribution. Photo by Laasya Achanta.

Laasya Achanta, Staff Writer

In addition to being an election year, 2020 also presents the census, a form distributed every 10 years to residents  across the country, the results of which are used to determine the apportionment at the House of Representatives.

Due to the presence of COVID-19, the U.S. Census Bureau is suspending 2020 Census field operations until April 15. The self-response phase of the census, currently planned for March 12 – July 31 has been extended to Aug. 14. However, the delivery of the apportionment to the President is still on schedule to be by Dec. 31, 2020

“Extending the deadline is good because there is a lot going on in the world right now, so right now the census might not be what is going on in their minds,” former Coppell High School student and New York University freshman Manasa Gudavalli said. “If the people working in hospitals are the primary household members, they might be the ones who take charge to see if all of the forms are done and they may not get around to filling out the census.”

There are three ways to respond to the census: online, in person or through phone. However, due to COVID-19, there has been reduced staffing at Census Call Centers nationwide, causing delays. 

“Since this COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve refocused our efforts and rather than holding booths and various events, what we’ve done is we’ve focused our efforts online to do social media marketing,” City of Coppell development services administrator Matt Steer said.

Though participating in the census is required by law, the 2010 Census participation rate in Dallas County was only approximately 71%, and it was approximately 74% across the nation. 

“My expectations for the census is that we get an accurate count of the population here in Texas and Dallas County and Denton County more specifically,” Steer said. “That will help in the alignment of congressional seats and distribution of federal funds.”

This year to date, the Texas self-response rate is at 34%, and 29% of the responses online. For Dallas County, the total self-response rate is at 35% and for the city of Coppell, the response rate is at 48.9%.

As all statistical measures, the census is not perfect as it has previously overcounted “the non-Hispanic white alone population by 0.8%” in 2010 and undercounted 2.1% of the Black population in 2010.

In July of 2019, the Trump administration argued for the addition of a citizenship question, asking if the participant was a citizen or not, to the census, however the action was blocked by the Supreme Court.

“It is fine to not have [the citizenship question] because there are people who live in households that might be undocumented or something along those lines, and it’s just easier for them to participate in the census if they are not asked about it,” Gudavalli said. “That way we have a better understanding of the actual amount of people who live in the U.S. and where they live.”

To promote the participation in the 2020 Census, companies are pushing online census participation, and influencers such as Cardi B have posted videos on Instagram targeting minorities and people of color to fill out the census. 

“A lot of people don’t know where to find the census, and I like how companies like Instagram and Facebook and Google are taking an initiative to put it on their websites,” CHS senior Suprita Ashok said. 

The online census form can be found at my2020census.gov.

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