Census 2020: How to participate in Butler County despite coronavirus slowdown

The coronavirus pandemic has put “a damper” on some public events regarding the 2020 Census, said David Fehr, director of Butler County department of development.

He said an iPad that was used by the public filing out their census inside the Government Services Center closed after two days and all public events to educate residents about the importance of the census have been canceled due to the coronavirus.

Fehr also is chair of the Complete Census Committee that is made up of 15 Butler County agencies. The information about the census is being distributed on web sites and fliers, he said.

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The preferred method for completing the census, in order: online, phone, mail and door-to-door. He said this is the first year the census is available online.

He described the census as “very short” and said the 10 questions can be answered in 10 minutes. He called completing the census “a very important task.”

If someone knocks on your door and says they represent the U.S. Census Bureau, Fehr said they will have a photo ID badge and be carrying a black brief case marked U.S. Census.

Five million Americans have filled out the 2020 Census, said Carol Hector-Harris, Census Bureau spokeswoman for the Philadelphia-region. Many households should have gotten mail starting last week about filling out the 2020 Census, she said.

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Census Bureau officials are carefully monitoring the coronavirus situation. They are working with national, state and local health authorities to continue conducting the 2020 Census.

“We’re focused on two key principles: protecting the health and safety of our staff and the public, and fulfilling our constitutional duty to deliver the 2020 Census counts on schedule,” Census Bureau officials said in a news release.

For the “group quarters” operation, which counts people in nursing homes, college dorms, prisons and other institutional living facilities, the Census Bureau offers a few different ways to respond, such as online, paper listing or self-counting by the facility. The Census Bureau is contacting all group quarters administrators that have requested an in-person visit to ask them to consider an an online response or offer to drop off and later pick up paper forms to minimize in-person contact with census staff.

“When we plan the census, we plan for all sorts of contingencies. We are prepared to adjust our normal operations if needed,” bureau officials said.

The Census Bureau is delaying sending census takers to households that haven’t responded to the census. Census takers won’t be out until the end of April.