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Why is the Census Bureau asking questions about the coronavirus?

The bureau is surveying homes and businesses

ATLANTA — ATLANTA— The U.S. Census Bureau is hitting Americans with another round of questions, and this time they’re all about COVID-19.

Over a three-month period, the Census Bureau will reach out to homes and small businesses to ask how the pandemic has impacted our lives.

Here’s why they want the information.

It’s not part of the Census.

These are surveys developed to measure the impact and response of the coronavirus.

U.S. Census Bureau Pulse Surveys

“There are opportunities for changes in policies to help people be more secure in healthcare and food sources,” says Georgia State University Senior Research Associate Peter Bluestone.

Nearly a million small businesses will be asked if their operations were disrupted if they struggled to get supplies and whether they received grants or loans.

Among the questions directed at households-- was anyone fired or laid-off? There are questions about the breadwinner’s ability to feed the family and insurance coverage.

As data is collected weekly it will be shared almost immediately.

The Bureau has already started posting some of its data from surveys with businesses.

“All of this data can be used to help steer a response by federal, state, and local governments,” says Bluestone. “As they’re implementing policy programs, what’s working, what’s not working?”

Bluestone points out that the Census Bureau will be constantly updating their data to measure if struggles continue or improve.

“People unable to access the internet, that was a real problem before and it’s a real problem now,” says Bluestone. “So, how do we strengthen our infrastructure along those lines?”

The Census Bureau is randomly selecting homes to participate in the survey. If you’re picked, you’ll get an email. The Bureau says it will not release any names when it publishes the data.

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