Kenneth Semien has not left his Texas home, nor had any visitors inside his house since March 14, the day after officials declared a state of disaster and national emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a 59-year-old African American man, who is blind and has high blood pressure, Semien simply cannot take the risk.
“My experience 18 years ago, being in a hospital for 89 days, really wants me to do whatever I can to stay out of a hospital,” he said, recalling the time a battle with meningitis left him completely blind in one eye and only able to see shapes in the other.
That fear put him in a bind in July when he had to decide whether to risk voting in the Texas runoff election in person, give up his privacy and independence and risk exposure to COVID-19 so someone could help him fill out an absentee ballot application, or not vote at all. Semien chose the last option – a decision he said was difficult to make.
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