Because the spread of COVID-19 has altered census outreach efforts over the past two weeks with the U.S. Census Bureau halting in-field operations, the census self-response period has been extended to Aug. 14. However, Travis County officials are encouraging residents to fill out the census now so that fewer census workers have to access nonresponsive residents in person over the coming months.
“To say the least, this has been disruptive," said John Lawler, the census program manager for Travis County. "Every single facet of the field operations of the Census Bureau has changed.”
Along with Travis County shifting in-person outreach efforts over to virtual methods, the planned field count of the county’s homeless population has been postponed from April 1 to May 1. Furthermore, the county’s efforts to connect with specific demographic groups through partnerships with various grassroots organizations have shifted its budget and efforts to online outreach, Lawler said. Travis County has also partnered with Austin ISD to give census materials to families while they pick up food during remote learning.
“Those are the kind of strategies we’re now shifting over to,” Lawler said.
Although the U.S. Census Bureau has made extensions and adjustments in response to the spread of the coronavirus, it will still need to report population data to the president by Dec. 31. Results will affect districting and funding across a range of government programs beginning in 2021.
Travis County residents can self-respond to the census by replying by mail via the mailer sent to households, or by visiting www.2020census.gov.
For more information on the census and its impact, click here.