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Census operations delayed, but still on track

Posted at 10:11 AM, Apr 23, 2020

GREAT FALLS — In-person operations for the 2020 United States Census were largely put on hold in March after the coronavirus outbreak, causing the Census Bureau to shift part of its timeline.

Josh Manning, the bureau’s media specialist for Montana, said one important operation that remains on hold is the “update/leave” operation, where census workers go to addresses, update and verify them, and leave a physical packet on the doorstep.

That’s important in Montana. It largely affects P.O. box holders, those who live on rural routes, and residents of tribal nations. Manning said those who haven’t yet received an invitation should be patient until field workers can safely go back according to health directives. That won’t happen until June at the earliest.

On the other hand, Manning said the overall count is well on track. Nationally, the self-response rate is 51%. In Montana, it’s around 43%, with a recent uptick in the last two weeks as people respond online, by phone, or mailing in questionnaires.

One thing that didn’t change in the bureau’s timeline: the official April 1 count date. Count yourself where you lived on that day or for most of the previous year. For example, Manning gave an example of a college student moving back in with mom and dad in March due to the virus. That student should still count themselves at their college, even if they have to wait until this summer to get counted.

For more information, click here to visit the Montana Census website.