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Population decline predicted for Detroit because 2020 census field operations put on hold

COVID-19 crisis put 2020 census taking on hold

DETROIT – After announcing last week that 2020 census workers would begin going door to door, the US Census Bureau said on Tuesday that would only be happening in portions of Michigan already allowed to open some close proximity businesses.

READ: U.S. Census Bureau suspends 2020 Census field operations amid coronavirus concerns

The decision to postpone what’s been dubbed, Operation Update Leave, will prolong the ability of taking the census and finding those who are difficult to count -- like in rural areas of the state.

To make matters worse, the census is already projecting Detroit’s population will once again shrink in this round of the survey.

Census workers were scheduled to start going door to door to more than 100,000 homes this week, leaving questionnaire packets on doorsteps and staying socially distant. A release from the bureau said workers would also be required to wear personal protective equipment and observe state pandemic orders.

MORE: Detroit’s census headcount critical as population decreases

According to a regional spokesperson, workers are subject to the same rules as any other business and need to wait for an order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to reopen local offices. The operation might be able to start in June. The national nonresponse door knocking is scheduled to start in August.

Just because census workers aren't out in the metro area, doesn't mean people can't still answer questions. Questionnaires are still being mailed out to those who haven’t filled them out. Responses can also be given over the phone and online, which takes less than 10 minutes. Those 10 minutes can add up to roughly $3,000 per person going to crucial services and organizations especially when it comes to funding healthcare and representation in Congress in the middle of the pandemic.

“The sense of urgency is, that right now, we know that we need so much in terms of making sure that people have the health care that they need,” Donna Murray-Brown, President and CEO of the Michigan Non-Profit Association said. ‘If anything in this pandemic we recognize the importance of health care, and to make sure that everybody in our communities have access to it.”

The census will also determine what life looks like after the pandemic. It ensures Michiganders struggling to recover are able to stay fed, stay in school and stay afloat.

“So those are infrastructure, things like roads and highways and bridges even as well as food programs and educational programs, things that we depend on really, in the course of our everyday lives,” Murray-Brown said.

In the Metro Area, the City of Detroit is restarting its census push this weekend with a large, online music festival called Everybody vs. Detroit, featuring more than 30 local artists. The city is also hosting a Census drive-up event at Martin Luther King Jr. High School from 11am- 2pm where Detroiters can get census material and some PPE.

READ: 2020 Census: Here’s what Detroiters need to know