Public urged to disregard mail from US Census Bureau

Posted on Jul 07 2020

Colleen Joyce, the 2020 Census Adviser to the CNMI, and 2020 CNMI Census office manager Clyde K. Norita urge the public yesterday to disregard the notice that was mistakenly sent by the U.S. Census Bureau to the P.O. boxes of CNMI residents. (Bea Cabrera)

Between June 24 and July 3, 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington, D.C. inadvertently sent notices to over 8,400 postal boxes in the CNMI, stating a number to call to respond to the census. CNMI residents are now being urged to disregard it.

This was the message of CNMI Census office manager Clyde K. Norita in a news briefing yesterday at the CNMI Census 2020 Office along Beach Road in Chalan Laulau. “It’s an urgent concern for us. …If they received it, please disregard because it doesn’t apply to U.S. Island Territories,” he said.

First, if you call the number stated, it will ask for your street address, which the CNMI does not have. Secondly, there are only two ways that the 2020 Census is conducted in the CNMI, Norita said. “Either we have people visiting and conducting in-person interviews or via phone interview,” he added.

“People have been calling this morning trying to verify the mail they got from the U.S. Census and we tell them to disregard. …We learned that Rota got it because we received calls from them. …Tinian will be next. Other islands—Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—are also receiving this notice,” he added.

The wrong notice states a website and a 1-800 number to call and that the respondent must be able to provide a street address and not a P.O. box. It also states that Census workers will begin visiting homes in August to interview households, which all are clearly not the procedures being implemented in the CNMI.

According to Colleen Joyce, the 2020 Census adviser to the CNMI, there was a mistake as those notices were meant for the U.S. mainland only. “We would like to apologize that the mailing went out…with some incorrect information for the CNMI. …There was an oversight and the website and phone number indicated in that mail is for stateside only. …Enumerators will be made aware of this as well so they can clarify the confusion,” she said.

“The 2020 Census is run locally by our office here, so we are continuing with our procedures of enumerators [going] to homes and conducting the interview in person. We do have the telephone option and residents are asked to call our office at (670) 682-2020 and they need to have a notice of visit delivered to their home first before they call in because they have to provide information that we need in order to conduct the interview over the telephone,” she added.

As of last week, 64% of CNMI households on Saipan, Tinian, Rota, and the Northern Islands of Agrihan, Alamagan, and Pagan have already responded to the census. “We expect the numbers to go higher this week. …Hopefully, we reach above 70% as we are rounding up third base and hitting for home in completing the census,” Norita said.

Joyce echoed this, saying they are shooting for the end of July to complete the CNMI census. “We might have some follow-up work that will go into August as well. Initial target was to complete by June 30 but we had to extend that due to the pandemic,” she said.

For more information or clarification, call the CNMI Census Office at (670) 682-2020.

Bea Cabrera | Correspondent
Bea Cabrera, who holds a law degree, also has a bachelor's degree in mass communications. She has been exposed to multiple aspects of mass media, doing sales, marketing, copywriting, and photography.
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