The State Department wasn't kidding when it put out its "level four" travel advisory last month urging Americans not to go abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic. CNN reports that on Friday, the department put up a "passport operations" update on its website, and the upshot of that update is that it won't be issuing new passports effective March 20. The only ones who can get their hands on one will have to go in person to a passport agency or center and prove a) that they need to travel internationally within the next 72 hours, and b) that that travel is for a "qualified life-or-death emergency," which means "serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family (e.g., parent, child, spouse, sibling, aunt, uncle, etc.)."
Those applicants will have to produce both proof of travel, such as a plane ticket, related to that emergency, as well as proof of the emergency itself, such a death certificate, mortuary statement, or signed letter from a doctor or hospital. If you applied on or before March 19, you'll get that passport, but the State Department warns to expect "significant delays." If you just need a passport renewal, you can still get one, though for the time being you won't be able to pay the extra $60 fee to get it expedited. As of Saturday morning, more than 1.1 million cases of the coronavirus have been reported worldwide, with nearly 60,000 deaths. (Read more passports stories.)