The Census Bureau has decided to cut the amount of time that it will spend knocking on doors across the country by a month, NPR reports.
In April, the agency indicated that it would need until Halloween to accurately count all of the people in the country due to delays incurred by coronavirus pandemic. Now, the effort to knock on doors will stop Sept. 30, three Census Bureau employees told the radio station. The bureau’s website does not yet reflect the change.
“It’s going to be impossible to complete the count in time,” one of the bureau employees told NPR. “I’m very fearful we’re going to have a massive undercount.”
Door knocking is still utilized by the bureau to get more accurate counts of communities where there has been little response to census. Bureau employees started knocking on doors at the beginning of July in under-reported communities, and the effort is expected to expand nationwide on Aug. 11, per NPR.
Roughly 40 percent of households in the U.S. have still not participated in the constitutionally mandated decennial tally.
When asked by NPR about the early end to door-knocking, the Census Bureau said in a statement: “We are currently evaluating our operations to enable the Census Bureau to provide this data in the most expeditious manner and when those plans have been finalized we will make an announcement.”
Families can still go to the Census Bureau’s website to self-respond, though it’s unclear how much longer they will be able to do so. According to NPR, the bureau’s site had said July 31 was the last day of the “self-respond phase,” but now it says the phase will go until the end of field data collection.