Illustration by UCalifornia

The 2020 Census: The Time to be Counted is Now

2020 April Editions Updates

By T. A. Hendrickson

I filled out the 2020 Census online for myself and my husband on March 27. It took six minutes. It could not have been easier.

If you haven’t yet filled out the census for your household, here’s what you need to know and do.

The 2020 Census rolled out in mid-March, just as the coronavirus restrictions took hold. The timing was unlucky, because it’s hard to get the public focused on a civic duty when daily life is being turned upside down.

But there’s a silver lining: For the first time, you have the option of completing the census online or on the phone, in addition to an option to complete it on paper. Obviously, online and phone options don’t require you to leave home to mail in a paper form, so they’re ideal for these housebound times.

Also, the U.S Census Bureau has pushed back the “respond by” date to August 14. So you have time to complete the census if you haven’t done so already.

If you don’t fill out the census, the U.S. Census Bureau will send a census taker to your address to ask you the census questions and take down your answers in person. By responding now, you will avoid a visit from a census taker later. 

To participate online, I used the notice that the U.S. Census Bureau sent to our home address in March. The notices were sent out to all U.S. households. The notice has a response web address – – and a Census ID number. I went to the web address, entered the ID and the rest was typing in our names and clicking on a few basic multiple-choice questions about our race/ethnicity and whether we own or rent our home.

To complete the census by phone, call 844-330-2020 (English) or 844-468-2020 (Spanish) or go to the Phone Response Guide for other languages. 

Whichever method you use, be sure to count every person in your household. Anyone and everyone who is in the country counts, regardless of citizenship, immigration status, age or any other factor.

The coronavirus experience drives home why it’s so important to fill out the census. The census numbers determine how much money our area gets from the federal government each year to help pay for health care, including Medicaid and Medicare coverage for doctor visits. The census also determines how much federal money the area gets for education, roads, transportation, environmental protection and other needs.

The 2020 Census is here. Be counted.


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T.A. Hendrickson, a native of Eagle Rock, is the editor of the Boulevard Sentinel and a former member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times.


1 thought on “The 2020 Census: The Time to be Counted is Now

  1. It is indeed a cool civic duty to get counted and it couldn’t be easier, doing it online. It is also one of the coolest jobs imaginable. When I first moved to NYC in 1979 that was my first part-time job. An enumeration district is a population the size of a small town, and I was right lucky to get my own block, West 50th between 9th and 10th. I never crossed the street. I got to meet all the folks who hadn’t sent in a form, which was quite a few – people who had lived there since Hell’s Kitchen was an apt name, when West Side Story gangs ran the neighborhood without song or dance, folks who’d just come from Central America and were living 8 to a room, folks who were happy to talk and some who were angry and suspicious, but it was all in all the best part-time job I ever had. Flat-out fascinating.

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