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Census Bureau suspends field operations for two weeks to protect employees during coronavirus pandemic

In its statement on Wednesday, the bureau continued to urge people to respond online.

Posted: Mar 18, 2020 4:01 PM
Updated: Mar 18, 2020 4:04 PM

The Census Bureau announced Wednesday that it is suspending its 2020 field operations for two weeks to protect the health of its employees and the public as the US battles the coronavirus pandemic.

The bureau said it would resume operations on April 1 and that during the hiatus it will continue to "evaluate" its operations to see if "additional adjustments" need to be made.

"The Census Bureau is taking this step to help protect the health and safety of the American public, Census Bureau employees, and everyone going through the hiring process for temporary census taker positions," the agency said in a statement.

The move adds to a growing list of local, state and national events and operations that have been canceled or postponed amid the pandemic, which has spread to all 50 states and resulted in at least 125 deaths as of Wednesday afternoon, according to state and local health agencies, governments and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

RELATED: It's time for the 2020 Census & now you can do it online!

While this year's decennial head count relies more heavily on collecting responses by phone, mail or online, it still needs an army of people to go knock on doors and interact with the public. And though it's early, interviews and anecdotal reports have suggested that compared with previous years, the Census Bureau is behind on hiring workers due, in part, to fears of exposure to the virus.

In its statement on Wednesday, the bureau continued to urge people to respond online.

"The public is strongly encouraged to respond to the 2020 Census online using a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet, and can also respond by phone or mail," the bureau said.

As of February 29, the Census Bureau was paying 23,610 temporary workers. Around this time in 2010, it had about 145,000 temporary workers. While it plans to hire fewer than half the 1.2 million workers it needed in 2010, nonprofit groups that help recruit workers for the census told CNN the current pace of hiring suggests a bigger problem may be at play.

Half a dozen Census Information Centers in states hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, including California and New York, had previously told CNN they were concerned about planned person-to-person outreach efforts and said they needed more specific guidance during the pandemic.

The Census Bureau had set up an internal Covid-19 task force that it said is regularly updating its pandemic response plan based on guidance from local, state and federal authorities, according to Michael Cook, a spokesman for the bureau.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 807451

Reported Deaths: 15583
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2669886504
Riverside581781189
San Bernardino54386925
Orange530691214
San Diego46331775
Kern31865367
Fresno28199382
Sacramento22183406
Alameda21136406
Santa Clara21030311
San Joaquin20194441
Contra Costa16469205
Stanislaus16452351
Tulare15970263
Ventura12664150
Imperial11835317
San Francisco11076101
San Mateo9843150
Monterey980771
Santa Barbara9037113
Merced8872142
Kings763177
Sonoma7369122
Marin6694117
Solano630963
Madera448165
Placer356745
San Luis Obispo354429
Butte281944
Yolo279555
Santa Cruz23309
Sutter170511
Napa166913
San Benito134011
Yuba11537
El Dorado11094
Mendocino90818
Shasta80617
Lassen7400
Glenn5783
Tehama5465
Lake53911
Nevada5337
Colusa5296
Humboldt5017
Calaveras31714
Amador29616
Tuolumne2274
Inyo18715
Mono1652
Siskiyou1650
Del Norte1391
Mariposa752
Plumas500
Modoc270
Trinity160
Sierra60
Alpine20
Unassigned00
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