Census 2020: How to complete the census during the COVID-19 outbreak

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Census Day, April 1, is considered the official start of the 2020 census, but more than 40% of Californians have actually already submitted their census data either online or by phone.

Now community leaders are urging the rest of us do it as soon as possible, so census workers do not have to come to our houses to count us during the COVID-19 outbreak.

This is the first time ever the census has been available online. Most California residents have already received a letter with instructions and a Census ID code to get started.

If you did not get the letter or cannot find it, you can visit the census website and you will be prompted to fill out the form using your home address.

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All the information you enter is based on where you live on April 1, 2020, even if you respond to the census earlier or later than that date. There are nine questions for each person who lives at your address.

You can also respond to the census by phone in 122 different languages.

If you do not reply on line or by phone, later this month you will be mailed a paper census form to fill out and mail back.

If you still do not respond, the census will follow up in person at your home, but it is not certain how soon that will happen. Census officials have put the door to door count on hold for now because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"They are delaying that for safety and we agree," said Ditas Katague, director of California Complete Count, the state's census outreach campaign.

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"We can do our part by answering online or over the phone to make sure that nobody comes to our door," she added.

State and local officials say it is critical everyone be counted to determine how many representatives California gets in Congress and how much federal tax money comes to California, including resources to deal with the long term impact of COVID-19.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed added her voice to the call for quick response to the census.

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"When we are counted, we count" she said. "When you think about the $2 trillion stimulus package that is being provided to the entire country, our state and possibly our city could have a tremendous percentage of that package based on the number of people that were counted in previous censuses."

Nonprofits around the state are scrambling to figure out how to reach historically undercounted communities. They are trying to get out the word that, by law, all your census information is confidential, and you will not be asked about your citizenship or immigration status.
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