Sean Penn’s disaster relief nonprofit Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE) has helped Los Angeles, California become the first major city to offer free COVID-19 testing to residents.
Testing will be available for anyone in the county of roughly 10 million people, although priority would be given to healthcare workers and people showing symptoms of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.
The tests were funded in part by CORE, a nonprofit organization co-founded by Penn in 2010, using a $375,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.
“This thing is still an active shooter that is focusing in particular on people of color, on people and elderly years, indigenous people,” said Penn.
The actor feels that there needs to be a larger plan in place that will allow businesses and people return to normalcy, but as if their lives are in danger, as people continue to die from the virus.
As of March 30 CORE had performed 40,000 test at 7 testing sites in California and 1 in Atlanta respectively.
“We’re getting so much support from folks from all over the country seeing what’s happening and wanting to participate to get that testing out,” said co-founder and CEO Ann Lee.
Core formed its roots in Haiti offering assistance following Hurricane Matthew and is using that infrastructure to fight COVID-19.
“We had 10 years of, I think, of a lot of common sense and counter intuitive experience to be able to bring to this. But that does not mean that this isn’t brand new to all of us. So, I guess where this ranks is, it is it seems to be the most unknown.”
After a decade of helping in Haiti, Penn says he always knew that the people who live without access to comfort would teach lessons to countries addicted to comfort. Adding that the overreaching goal for CORE is to create a new hunger for preparedness in all sectors.
“We’ve been at for many years in in this in this space. And preparedness is what’s considered the least sexy both politically and in fundraising terms. And that’s, I think, what has been the principal gap maker here and why we’re all struggling from behind. Because we’ve not been able to, as a culture, understand. You know, it’s one thing to fix a problem, it’s another to avoid it.”
The entire state of California remains under strict “stay-at-home” orders meant to slow the spread of coronavirus while some other states begin to reopen their economies.
(Production: Alicia Powell)