census 2020

Door-to-Door Census Workers Are Adapting to the Pandemic

NBC 7 Responds looked at how the workers will try to keep themselves and you safe while still collecting this important information

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Workers from the U.S. Census Bureau are days away from knocking on doors across the county. They will be trying to get information on the thousands of people that have not yet responded online, by phone, or by mail to the 2020 Census.

"If you do not do it now, you're going to be put on a list where U.S. Census Bureau workers are going to follow up," said Diana Crofts-Pelayo, who works on the 2020 Census. "That's in person, to your home, to ask you to fill out the census."

The quick questionnaire lets local, state, and federal lawmakers know how many people are living in parts of the country. It helps lawmakers decide where to spend billions of dollars it allocates to important resources like roads, schools, hospitals, and even fire departments. Taking it is also required by state law.

But the coronavirus pandemic is still going on and many people might be concerned when strangers knock on their doors. That is why the census is urging people to fill it out by Friday. This is the first time there are three ways you can respond, by phone, mail, or online.

"You are more likely to be truthful and honest on the census if you do it from the comfort of your own home, without having someone stand in front of you and ask you these questions," said Crofts-Pelayo.

Census workers will start knocking on doors next week. Unlike previous years, they will be required to stay outdoors and away from you.

"It's something that's maybe not so comfortable for people," said Crofts-Pelayo. "They'll have hand sanitizer, they will be maintaining a 6-foot distance, they do not have to come into your home."

San Diego county has higher response rates than a lot of the country. The Census Bureau says around 70% of people have responded, but areas like Del Mar and La Jolla are not keeping pace.

"If you compare it to how they did 10 years ago, they're not completing the census at the same rate," said Crofts-Pelayo.

The census made sure to advertise in places that had historically low rates of respondents and say it has worked.

"We had very targeted outreach to these harder to count communities," said Crofts-Pelayo. "We've been saying it in their language, in their community, and in the places that they visit and it's been successful."

Still, around 30% of San Diegans have not responded to the census. Statewide there are still nearly 5 million households that have not responded as well.

The census bureau has also warned that people may try to impersonate census workers. They say you should never give out overly personal information such as social security numbers or banking information.

To learn how you can fill out the census, go to 2020Census.gov.

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