Census door knockers starting in 6 states later this month

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Homes in six states across the U.S. can expect to get knocks on their doors from census takers in two weeks as part of a soft launch of the next phase of the largest head count in U.S. history, Census Bureau officials said Wednesday.

Starting in mid-July, homes whose residents haven’t yet answered the 2020 census in areas around Beckley, West Virginia; Boise, Idaho; Gardiner, Maine; Kansas City, Missouri; New Orleans; and Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, will get visits from census takers hoping to ask them about who lives in their household and the residents’ race, sex, Hispanic origins and relations to each other.

The census takers originally were supposed to head out in May, but the spread of the new coronavirus delayed that operation for most of the country until August. The spread of the virus also postponed existing field operations for a month and a half, and caused the Census Bureau to push back the end of the once-a-decade head count from the end of July to the end of October.

One of those operations, in-person counting of people in “group quarters” such as prisons, drug treatment facilities and military barracks, restarted Wednesday with census takers heading out to facilities whose administrators hadn’t yet submitted information on their residents. Just over a third of group quarter administrators had responded to the census, according to the Census Bureau.

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These places were chosen for the soft launch because of the bureau’s ability to safely resume operations there and the availability of personal protective equipment, the Census Bureau said in a statement.

Before knocking on doors, the census takers will have to take a virtual training class on COVID-19 safety protocols.

“If masks are required in the area, census takers will wear them,”‘ the bureau said.

The 2020 census will help determine how many congressional seats each state gets and the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending. Because of the pandemic, the Census Bureau has asked Congress to allow it to postpone turning over data for apportionment and redistricting.

As of Tuesday, 61.8% of U.S. households had answered the 2020 census questionnaire on their own either online or by mailing back a form. The Census Bureau is planning on hiring hundreds of thousands of census takers to knock on the doors of 56 million households that haven’t yet filled out their forms.

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