Actor Sean Penn, founder of Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), is interviewed at a CORE coronavirus testing site at Crenshaw Christian Center, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, in Los Angeles. Penn says his organization CORE has made some strides against the coronavirus and he’s keeping its mission going by expanding testing and other relief services. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Sean Penn ups fight against COVID-19 with relief expansion

CORE stands for Community Organized Relief Effort

LOS ANGELES — Sean Penn has expanded his fight against the coronavirus beyond his own expectations.

The Oscar winner’s disaster relief organization CORE has gone from providing 6,500 tests in a couple weeks to administering more than 1.3 million within a five-month span. The organization started at four sites in Los Angeles and currently operates in 32 locations in cities including New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans and Washington, D.C.

The organization, which started as an international relief group, had initially planned to operate testing sites in Los Angeles for three months. It’s now expanding its services and bracing for the winter months, when the virus could surge and strain resources.

CORE, which stands for Community Organized Relief Effort, has since late March grown to 900 staff and volunteers. It has been testing an average of 15,000 people per day in Los Angeles since May 26, CORE officials said.

Penn applauded the efforts of those who have willingly helped his organization during the pandemic.

“We were able to come in and absorb some sites then expand out to other sites,” Penn said in a recent interview, while CORE workers wore hazard suits to distribute tests at a free drive-thru COVID-19 test site in Los Angeles. The organization is focused on giving free tests to low-income groups and communities along with first responders and essential workers.

“We recruited very quickly at the beginning, because people wanted to help,” he said. “They feel there’s an energy that’s going to make a real impact.”

Penn’s organization has already implemented their own guidelines called “The Core 8” to combat the virus. It includes delivering test results within 48 hours, a government-supported contact tracing system, food and hygiene kits along with financial aid for households with positive case results.

The actor hopes CORE’s initiative can help slow the spread of the virus, especially before more people gather indoors due to colder temperatures. He’s concerned about the possible lack of resources if positive cases increase.

“So where are we really in the national inventory?” he asked. “Where are we in terms of the deployment of those resources in the case of big surges? I don’t think any of us know.”

CORE has garnered much of its resources through citizen support and local governments along with private and non-profit sectors including the Rockefeller Foundation and Direct Relief. A few months ago, CORE teamed up with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office and the city’s fire department to safely distribute free drive-thru COVID-19 test sites for those with qualifying symptoms.

“But that’s not a sustainable model,” said Ann Lee, co-founder and CEO of CORE, which also stepped in to help rebuild Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and the devastating Hurricane Matthew. She thought CORE’s virus testing would last only three months as a bridge until government-funded programs took over.

“If we’re looking at providing one fiftieth of the tests in the United States, as mostly through private donations, that says something. That’s scary,” she said. “We’re in a space asking, ‘Where’s the government?’ For us to keep this up sustainably, that’s becoming more and more of an important question.”

Despite their concerns, Penn said watching the workers at testing sites gives him hope.

“They’re out on on these tarmacs hour after hour, day after day, six days a week,” he said. “It’s growing and they just keep at it. So you can only have some kind of hope.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s disaster risk assessment plan in poor shape, says auditor

Disaster costs have greatly expanded since 2003

Student art to represent Orange Shirt Day

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools project

Recovery plan inspires confidence but Canadians like working from home for now: Poll

Fear of a worse second wave may explain why workers want to work from home

Amazon sees its palm recognition tech in stadiums, offices

Palm recognition more private than other biometric technology

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

David Marsden: Molly Banister extension must be kept

‘It would be a mistake to take a sensible response to future residential development off the table’

Toronto Blue Jays won’t pitch ace Ryu in playoff opener against Rays

Toronto grabbed eighth playoff spot with a record of 32-28

The only debate moderator to return, Fox’s Wallace preps

Known as methodical, even-tempered and never showy

Steve Harvey talks show revival on Facebook Watch, NBC split

Launches new talk show ‘Steve on Watch’

Bubble hockey champs: Tampa Bay Lightning beat Dallas Stars 2-0, win Stanley Cup

Bubble hockey champs: Tampa Bay Lightning beat Dallas Stars 2-0, win Stanley Cup

Mahomes outplays Jackson to lead Chiefs past Ravens 34-20

Mahomes outplays Jackson to lead Chiefs past Ravens 34-20

The Finals are set: LeBron, Lakers will meet Butler, Heat

The Finals are set: LeBron, Lakers will meet Butler, Heat

Most Read