For Families of 9/11 Victims, Virus Further Slows the Pace of Justice

“I don’t see anything happening until after the first of the year. And even that is wishful thinking,” he said, anticipating new outbreaks of the virus. “The medical community I’m involved with, the rescue company, hospital people, they honestly have a thought that in the fall it’s going to rear its ugly head again and it’s going to flourish.”

Compounding the problem, the case needs a new judge. Col. W. Shane Cohen, the judge who scheduled jury selection to start on Jan. 11, 2021, abruptly announced his retirement from the Air Force on March 17, days after the World Health Organization declared the rapidly spreading virus a pandemic.

The health crisis has disrupted the assignments and training of American military judges across the globe. So the chief of the war court judiciary has been supervising the case administratively from Fort Hood, Texas, casting further doubt on when the trial might start.

Mr. Shapiro, 72, whose wife, Sareve Dukat, 53, was killed at the World Trade Center, said the timetable for an early 2021 start to the trial “feels like it was a tease.”

He worked as a volunteer at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in Manhattan until the pandemic closed the site. “Sept. 11 basically has been marginalized in the public imagination,” he said.

For some family members of those who died on Sept. 11, the response to the virus has stirred painful reminders of the attacks by 19 hijackers who crashed four passenger planes in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. Then, as now, rescue workers selflessly put themselves in harm’s way, refrigerator trucks served as overflow morgues in New York City and grieving families held incomplete funerals.

Glenn Morgan, 57, of Belmont, Mass., whose father, Richard Morgan, was killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center, likened the magnitude of death brought by the virus to “40 moving 9/11s rolling across the country like a dirty cloud.”