The U.S. Census Bureau has postponed the deadline for completing the 2020 census count until mid-August — two weeks after the original deadline of July 31.

But the bureau is encouraging citizens to go ahead and respond to the 2020 census online, by mail or by telephone.

The bureau has temporarily suspended field operations after hiring some 600,000 workers to help with the census. Those people were distributing questionnaires to people living primarily living in rural areas. They were to start visiting college campuses, senior centers and other facilities with large groups of people, as well as people who have not responded, in April, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they won’t start knocking on doors until late May.

Invitations to respond to the census began arriving in mailboxes March 12, and as of March 21, 21.2 percent of Colorado households had responded, according to the bureau’s website. That’s just a bit above the national response rate of 21 percent. Nearly all of the responses nationally and in Colorado have been via the internet.

In the past few days, some online respondents have been getting a message that states: “For security reasons, this session has been terminated.”

According to the bureau, that message is generated because of its attempts to protect the integrity of responses to the survey through AI services.

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“We are continuously monitoring and refining these security measures in order to enable all legitimate responses while maintaining security,” a March 19 release from the bureau stated.

The data collected through the census reveals much about America and is crucially important because it determines congressional representation and informs hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding over the next decade.

Census results are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts and to allocate the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The results also help business owners, lawmakers and others to make critical decisions, such as where communities need new schools, roads, clinics and other services.

Businesses will have access to a rich set of data on the communities they serve, including population trends and growth projections. This data can help guide decisions on where to open new stores, restaurants, factories or offices, where to expand operations and recruit employees, and which products and services to offer.

The online questionnaire can be accessed at my2020census.gov.

Those who prefer to respond by phone may call 844-330-2020 7 a.m.-2 a.m. EDT.

Citizens who receive a paper census form in the mail may respond online, by phone or by mail. The questionnaire comes with a return envelope, but citizens who have misplaced the envelope should return the form to U.S. Census Bureau, National Processing Center, 1201 E. 10th St., Jeffersonville, Indiana 47132.

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