How Does the COVID-19 Pandemic Affect the 2020 Census?

Matthew Orama
March 30, 2020

The decennial Census is a critical, constitutionally mandated exercise to ensure fair distribution of the over $675 billion in federal funds, grants, and support to states and their local neighborhoods. This funding supports critical programs and investments, such as schools, infrastructure, and hospitals. The information that is collected is also used to determine how many seats each state will have in the United States House of Representatives. Everyone living in the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the five U.S. territories is required by law to be counted in the 2020 Census, regardless of your housing or immigration status.

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau has made a number of adjustments to their operations throughout the country in order to ensure a complete count while prioritizing public safety. During these challenging times, it's important to know what these changes mean for our students, staff, and local community members so that everyone is fully counted in the 2020 Census. As of March 27, the following changes have been implemented.

Columbia University remains committed to ensuring that everyone is counted, and to keeping our neighbors informed about updates coming from the Census Bureau. If you wish to respond online or by phone, please visit or call (844) 330-2020. For more information on the new deadlines and further changes to Census operations, click here.