NEXT NORMAL: Pandemic delays passport processing

Passports((Source: KLTV))
Updated: Jun. 29, 2020 at 6:46 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - If you want a passport you’re going to have to wait. The Gregg County Courthouse was told the U.S. government would not be processing passports. KLTV speaks with an East Texas District Clerk about it in the Next Normal.

Back in March was the last time the Gregg County District Clerk’s office sent an application for a passport according to Gregg County District Clerk Trey Hattaway, and people want to know when they can get one.

“Four or five people have come here during the week just if we’ve opened it back up. And what we also hear from are people that processed their passport before the shutdown, and they still have not received,” Hattaway said.

Hattaway says he’s not surprised passports were shut down during the pandemic. He says that the government has started processing passports received before COVID-19 hit, but has no word as to exactly why they stopped making passports.

“We have not received any communications that would tell us exactly what their process of thinking was on the issue but lots of speculation,” Hattaway said.

The District Clerks Office also has no answer for people who applied before the pandemic.

“In fact, I had a call from somebody the other day. They’re planning their honeymoon. They applied for a passport back in February and they’re about ready to get married and go on a honeymoon and they still have not received their passports back,” Hattaway said.

It is also the time of year for vacations, and some will take one, but they may be staying in the country if they don’t already have a passport.

“We get a lot of business through that, and it’s a service that we provide and it has really truly limited our traffic in our office,” Hattaway said.

And although Hattaway says initially the passport shut down was a surprise:

“You know I think now that you look back on it, nothing’s unexpected with COVID. It’s a day to day operation and one thing that you’re doing on Tuesday you may not be doing on Wednesday,” Hattaway said.

Just when the passport process will start back up again is a bit of a mystery in the Next Normal.

The District Clerks Office still does other legal paperwork for the court system, but that’s a little slower too since there are no jury trials going on right now.

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