When court officials in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna County began sending out jury summonses in September as the system began to reopen after the COVID-19-related shutdown, one thing became obvious: fewer prospective jurors were willing to appear.

According to Court Administrator Frank Castellano, the participation rate fell from 35% to 15%. Even though the court—anticipating the wariness many prospective jurors would feel about coming to court while a pandemic battered the United States—had increased the number of summonses sent out from 350 to 450, there were still a few close calls when it came to empaneling juries, Castellano said.