The 2020 Census has been met with an unprecedented challenge. As the decennial count got underway in mid-March, so did coronavirus-spurred shutdowns and social distancing measures. The new way of life has caused the U.S. Census Bureau to ask Congress for an additional 120 days to render its final figures.

According to a press release, over 70 million households have responded to date, representing nearly half of American homes. But more time is required to “protect the health and safety of the American public and Census Bureau employees, implement guidance from federal, state and local authorities, and ensure a complete and accurate count of all communities.”

The Bureau says they plan to reopen field offices as early as June 1, and extend the window for responses until Oct. 31. The hope is to deliver the comprehensive data to the president by April 30, 2021, and offer redistricting data to states no later than July 31. In years past, the deadline for the data to reach the Oval Office has been December 31.

Though the challenges faced for the 2020 Census are unique, organizations throughout the country are making sure it does not lead to an undercount. Michelle Obama’s voting rights organization, When We All Vote, recently launched an ad campaign starring Janelle Monaé that reminds Americans that $650 billion dollars are at stake with this count.

Young, Black girl holds "Today We Count" poster at census rally
Demonstrators rally at the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on April 23, 2019, to protest a proposal to add a citizenship question in the 2020 Census. – In March 2018, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced he was going to reintroduce for the 2020 census a question on citizenship abandoned more than 60 years ago. The decision sparked an uproar among Democrats and defenders of migrants — who have come under repeated attack from an administration that has made clamping down on illegal migration a hallmark as President Donald Trump seeks re-election in 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Stacey Abrams-led initiative, Fair Count, announced this month that they were teaming up with Comcast NBCUniversal on a million-dollar national partnership to encourage Black participation in the data collection that happens every ten years. Dr. Jeanine Abrams McLean, Vice President of Fair Count said of the joint effort, “This partnership will allow us to reach people across the country — from urban to rural communities — letting them know how participation in the 2020 Census will benefit their families, friends, and communities for the next ten years.”

Everyone currently residing in the United States should respond to the government-issued form by returning it in the mail, by calling 844-330-2020 or filling it out online at my2020census.gov.

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