BALTIMORE (WJZ) — With more people staying at home in recent months due to the coronavirus, the U.S. Census Bureau is finding the response rate to the 2020 census to be higher than anticipated.

All of the area census offices in Maryland are now fully open as they continue to count the U.S. population in the midst of the pandemic and growing civil unrest, but the deadline to fill out the census has been pushed back to October 31 due to COVID-19.

The census takers who would normally be knocking on peoples’ doors to remind them to fill out the form have also been put on pause.

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Despite that, it’s not all bad news for the Census Bureau.

“Because people were at home, and we went online, people completed their forms online,” partnership coordinator Julius Maina said.

Maryland’s rate currently sits at just over 65 percent, but with a goal of hitting 74 percent, there’s plenty of work to be done.

“We do see a dip in incremental increase after 60.5 statistically,” Maina said.

For those who haven’t yet filled out the form, census takers will begin knocking on doors come August, two months later than originally planned.

“I remember that for the first time ever there are three ways to complete the census: online, over the phone or by mail. I’m sure you could imagine, we didn’t have the clearance to have anyone in the field,” Maina said.

Paying $15-$25 dollars an hour, the Census Bureau is looking to hire more part-time workers, specifically from the communities they’ll be working in.

“It’s your neighbor, is your pastor, it’s people that you know. So there’s other people that we need to go out into their communities and say hey we noticed you didn’t complete the census. It’s constitutionally mandated we would love for you to complete it,” Maina said.

It’s more important now than ever as the numbers determine the allocation of resources, he said.

“It’s really important to ensure communities that are hardest affected get the resources they need to go back to as normal as possible,” Maina said.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Sean Streicher

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