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Census count project changes with COVID-19

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News from the Montana 2020 Census 

MONTANA – The U.S. Census Bureau announced that Montana will be one of a few states in the nation to resume update/leave operations. During this operation, census employees with identification and wearing full personal protective equipment will leave census packets on doors of households who are in the update leave areas and have yet to respond to the 2020 Census.

Originally scheduled to start in March, the spreading COVID-19 virus, and subsequent stay-at-home orders, forced the U.S. Census Bureau in mid-March to halt field operations such as hiring and training, reaching out to college students in off-campus housing and dropping off paper questionnaires to households without traditional addresses.

Remember, the U.S. Census Bureau is required by law to protect your information. The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release anyone’s responses in a way that could identify a person or household.

Leave operations started on May 4, but full field operations will not resume until after June 1, extended to Oct. 31. Additionally, the Census Bureau is seeking statutory relief from Congress of 120 additional calendar days to deliver final apportionment counts to the President on April 30, 2021, instead of December 31, 2020.

Making sure that Native Americans are accurately counted in Census 2020 is a top focus of the Montana State Complete Count Committee. More than 29,000 reservation-area households in Montana have yet to receive an invitation to respond to the Census. 

Reservations and rural areas in the state also lack city-style street addresses, which prevents them from receiving Census materials by mail. An accurate count of tribal and reservation areas is critical to those populations. Federal funding for Indian schools, education programs, health programs, housing programs, water and sewage projects, roads, and economic development are distributed based on data collected by the Census Bureau.

With the Census Bureau staff not resuming full field operations until June, the Montana Complete Count Committee is working hard with tribal partners to make sure tribal and reservation populations are not missed in the count. 

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