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US Census Bureau suspends field operations on virus concerns

A person holds census information handed out at an event in New York City on February 22.
A person holds census information handed out at an event in New York City on February 22. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday suspended field operations for two weeks, citing the health and safety of its workers and the U.S. public from the novel coronavirus.

The Census Bureau made the announcement a week after the start of the 2020 census count, and bureau officials said they were continuing to monitor all operations related to the 2020 census in the wake of the virus spread. As of Wednesday, 11 million households had answered the census questions.

Most census workers won't be heading out into the field until May, when census takers go out to knock on the doors of homes that haven't turned in their questionnaires.

But some workers are in the field, primarily working on counts for college students, nursing homes, prisons and other institutions, as well as places with no fixed addresses.