The U.S. Census Bureau will likely have difficulty reaching an accurate count this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but under federal law it cannot be canceled.
The 2020 census had already been facing issues in counting minorities before the outbreak began growing, but now, the government is facing having to stop door-to-door efforts to count Americans, reports The Guardian.
Many Americans got invitations to respond to the census online or by phone March 12, at about the same time governors and mayors nationwide began their stay-at-home orders.
And while the bureau has delayed some operations, federal law sets April 1 as census day.
At the same time, there is a push to get people to register and be counted online while they remain quarantined, but there are still Americans who cannot do that without having reliable Internet. In addition, immigrants are suspicious of the census after the Trump administration tried unsuccessfully to add a question about citizenship on the survey.
“It couldn’t have snowballed at a worse time,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a consultant who works on census issues told The Guardian, noting the further away from April 1 the efforts reach, it will be more difficult to compile accurate information.
The census data is used to allocate some $1.5 trillion in federal funds, and also depends were vital infrastructure such as hospitals and roads will be built.
It also determines election district lines for the next decade, and how many representatives each state gets in the House.
The Census Bureau earlier this month pushed back the final deadline from July 31 to Aug. 14, and has delayed its door-to-door count to late May. In addition, in-person workshops about filling the census have been canceled, which will also cause trouble with an accurate count, notes The Guardian.