The U.S. Census Bureau’s Bakersfield Area Census Office previously closed due to employees testing positive for COVID-19, confirmed Angelica Vásquez, the media communications specialist for the Los Angeles Regional Census Center.
Multiple local Census employees told Kern Sol News a handful of workers have tested positive for the virus. Some of those who tested positive are employees who train hundreds of census takers each day, according to an employee who wishes to remain anonymous.
Census takers began going door-to-door a few weeks ago in an attempt to reach households that have not responded to the Census via mail, by phone or online.
Steven Dillingham, the Director of the Census Bureau, wrote in a statement from Aug. 14, “the safety of our staff and the public is our top priority.”
In response to the employees testing positive, the office was cleaned and officials followed “all guidelines set by CDC and local public health authorities,” Vasquez said.
In order to prevent the spread, the safest, easiest, and most efficient way to respond to the Census is to online, said Dillingham in a statement.
But the Census Bureau said in a statement Census takers are following CDC guidelines when they go door to door. They are wearing face coverings, maintaining a social distance of six feet or more, and using proper hygiene practices, while also conducting interviews outside as much as possible.
The Census Bureau has acquired more than 41 million pieces of Personal Protective Equipment for use by office and field staff. This includes 2.4 million masks, 14.4 million individual gloves, 21.4 million disinfectant wipes, 3.6 million bottles of hand sanitizer for field staff use, and 48,000 gallons of hand sanitizer for use in census facilities.
People can still respond to the 2020 Census online by visiting 2020census.gov by phone 844-330-2020 or by filling out the paper questionnaire and sending it out by mail. The deadline is Sept. 30.