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the coronavirus crisis

The Census Bureau is suspending field operations because of the coronavirus

Field operations for the 2020 census are being put on pause until April amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced on Wednesday it's suspending field operations for two weeks until April 1 "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 Census Bureau continues to "encourage everyone to respond online," but CNN previously reported that as the novel coronavirus spread in the United States, the Bureau appeared to be behind on hiring workers who will need to do in-person counts and follow up with households that don't respond.

"Particularly problematic," CNN writes, "will be conducting in-person counts in minority communities as well as of students on college campuses, seniors in assisted living facilities and people experiencing homelessness," groups that are both "at high risk for infection" and "among those most in need of in-person outreach." The Associated Press notes that most census workers won't start knocking on doors until May, but some are in currently in the field.

In a statement last week, the Census Bureau said it "must fulfill our constitutional obligation to deliver the 2020 Census counts to the president of the United States on schedule." On Wednesday, the Bureau said it will "continue to evaluate" all of its operations during this two-week pause and that "in the limited number of instances where an in-person visit is necessary, we are working closely with public health authorities to ensure each visit is accomplished safely."