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Denisse Takes’s world is very small these days. She makes a living by producing songs from her living room, plays “Animal Crossing” online with friends and leaves her home in Burbank, Calif., only occasionally to walk her dog.
Even as her social media feeds are flooded with friends and family members returning to their normal lives, she sees no one except for her husband, who donated his kidney in 2015 so that Ms. Takes, 37, could receive a compatible donor’s kidney in return.
The medication that keeps her immune system from rejecting the organ also suppresses it from creating antibodies in response to a coronavirus vaccine. Her body is so bad at fighting off infection that she has gone to the emergency room with common colds, she said. She fears that Covid-19 would kill her.
But the isolation and depression — amplified as the rest of the world seemingly moves on from the pandemic without her — have also taken their toll. “I keep trying to hold on for my husband, honestly,” Ms. Takes said.
Millions of Americans with weakened immune systems, disabilities or illnesses that make them especially vulnerable to the coronavirus have lived this way since March 2020, sequestering at home, keeping their children out of school and skipping medical care rather than risk exposure to the virus. And they have seethed over talk from politicians and public health experts that they perceive as minimizing the value of their lives.