The bureau will also delay a count of homeless people by one month, until the end of April.
This is the first decennial census to which respondents are being asked to respond online. Most U.S. households received invitations this week to respond to the census online, by phone or by mail. More than 18.6 million households had already responded as of Friday.
The decennial count affects $1.5 trillion in federal funding each year along with congressional representation and redistricting.
The Census Bureau’s plan to employ hundreds of thousands of temporary workers is already being affected by coronavirus concerns.
The bureau has recruited 2.8 million applicants, 600,000 people have accepted job offers and are going through background checks and fingerprinting, and more than 8,000 people a day are still applying. But the bureau has suspended activities related to hiring and onboarding through at least April 1, Olson said, adding that the mobile assistance program, in which employees help people at large gatherings fill out the census, has also been delayed until at least mid- to late April.
The plan for the 2020 Census “is resilient and it’s adaptive,” said Albert Fontenot, the bureau’s associate director for decennial programs. “We are meeting daily [and] adjusting on a day-to-day basis.”
The co-chairs of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ Census Task Force, representing various civil rights groups, applauded the changes.
“The Census Bureau understands the public health challenge it is up against and is properly adjusting in real-time,” they said in a statement, adding that “people can, and should, continue to respond online, by phone, or by paper form.”