April 18, 2020
After virus delays, Census must scramble to avoid undercount
Slammed by a pandemic, the Census Bureau postponed crucial portions of the count for the third time in a month, further raising the bar for an accurate count.
That has some experts concerned. In Texas, a fifth of the state’s 254 counties — heavily Latino areas along the border with Mexico, sparsely populated poor areas in the state’s interior — are responding to the census at rates half that of the state average, which is itself among the lowest in the country. In part, that is because a Census Bureau effort to deliver forms to about five million households without postal addresses, most of them poor, was barely begun before being halted by the virus.
“The response rates have really dropped since census day” on April 1, said Lila Valencia, senior demographer and the point person on census issues at the Texas Demographic Center in Austin. “We need to get self-response kick-started, right now.”