Washington (CNN)As coronavirus shuts down large parts of the US economy and millions of Americans limit social interaction, the Census Bureau is preparing to send thousands of workers into communities to assist in the decennial headcount. While this year’s census relies more heavily on collecting responses by phone, mail or online, it still needs an army of people to go knock on doors and interact with people. And though it’s early, interviews and anecdotal reports suggest that compared to previous years, the Census Bureau is behind on hiring workers due, in part, to fears of exposure to the virus.As of February 29, the Census Bureau was paying 23,610 temporary workers. At around this time in 2010, it had about 145,000 temporary workers. While the 2020 Census plans to hire fewer than half the 1.2 million workers it needed in 2010, non-profit groups that help recruit workers for the census tell CNN the current pace of hiring suggests a bigger problem may be at play.”We are really stressed right now,” said David Lee, Vice Chair of the Census Information Centers Steering Committee, a network of non-profits that provide outreach and information regarding the census to local governments, businesses and community groups.

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