BETHEL - Alaska’s response rate to the ongoing U.S. census is half the national average, officials said.
Only 11% of Alaska households have responded to 2020 census forms mailed to residents, KYUK-AM reported Tuesday.
There have been 140 million forms sent to households nationwide so far and 22% of the forms have been completed.
The coronavirus outbreak prompted the U.S. Census Bureau to close field offices and delay door-to-door interviews until April.
The bureau has warned there may be more delays and adjustments as the pandemic evolves.
Nonprofit census education group Alaska Counts warns that the state will not receive a fair share of federal funds and programs allocated using figures compiled by the census if the new count is not accurate.
Alaska Counts advocated for a strong, community-based effort in rural communities using local census takers. Many worry the pandemic will create difficulties with the counting within Alaska's rural villages.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death
The bureau asked residents to respond quickly after receiving census packets in the mail. The census form can be completed online but respondents must use a 12-digit number included in the mail packet sent to their homes to fill out the census online.
Residents can also call a phone number listed in the census packet, but must brace for long waits because the bureau has reduced staff due to the spread of the coronavirus.