Census field supervisor sounds alarm on protective gear

Posted at 4:44 PM, Aug 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 21:51:33-04

SAN DIEGO — Jason Walters took a job as a Census Field Supervisor because it looked like fun and he needed the money. He never expected to be going out on a limb.

"I want to get the word out," he says.

Walters says he's concerned about Census takers in the field, including his team of 11.

His crew is knocking on doors around Mira Mesa to collect data from those who haven't responded to the government survey. Walters says the Census Bureau gave each worker a Ziploc bag with just two cloth masks and a bottle of hand sanitizer, which Walters says is not nearly enough.

"We would be sending them into harms way with nothing but a piece of cloth over their face," he says.

His concern is that when people are home and come to the door, they're less likely to be wearing a mask. He's now pushing for the Census bureau to provide its field workers with plastic face shields - a request he has tried to escalate with no success.

The Census Bureau referred ABC-10 to a recent joint statement with the CDC. It says Census takers are trained to wear face masks, maintain six feet of social distance, practice hand hygiene, and not enter homes to do interviews.

Walters says the leadership agreed the plastic face shields would be a benefit, but if Walters wanted to get them for his own crew, he'd need to pay for them out of his own pocket. He did exactly that - shelling out about $50 on amazon for a bundle of them, at $3.50 each.

Still, Walters says he's alarmed by the number of seniors he sees signing up as census takers, those at higher risk for Covid-19.

"We're not talking about body armor. We're talking about plastic masks," he says.

And he'd like to see the government pony up for them en masse.