Sean Penn offering free COVID-19 tests at protests: ‘Testing and protesting are essentials’

Sean Penn is doing his part to keep protesters safe with free COVID-19 testing.

Demonstrators have been hitting the streets nationwide amid the coronavirus pandemic to protest police brutality and racial inequality following the May 25th death of George Floyd. Many protesters have disregarded social distancing guidelines to march, deeming racism a greater risk then contracting COVID-19.

Penn called the Black Lives Matter movement an "existential moment."

"It’s a shame that it happened during a pandemic," Penn told Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Tuesday, "but both testing and protesting are essentials right now. We can’t lose this moment."

Sean Penn wants to 'save lives' with free drive-thru coronavirus testing in California

More: Tracking protests across the USA in the wake of George Floyd's death

Actor and activist Sean Penn speaks during a press conference to announce a new coronavirus drive-thru testing site in Chicago, organized by the CORE disaster relief organization started by Penn on May 18, 2020.

Penn announced that his nonprofit organization, Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), plans to administer free COVID-19 tests at demonstrations as the coronavirus and continued push for justice show no signs of slowing down.

CORE, which has over 1,000 staff members administering tests around the country, is "pro-test (at) protests," Penn said.

"We’re gonna be going into Washington, D.C. working with Mayor (Muriel) Bowser’s office, I believe next week, to start a mobile testing of protesters,” Penn said. "I just hope that, you know, whatever little effect we can have, encouragement we can have to just start moving things in that direction. I don’t sense that the protests are gonna stop soon."

And, Penn said he fully supports those exercising their first amendment rights.

"There’s masses of people with a really, you know, overall noble mission that, as I said earlier, I think is going to make a change for the better," he added.

There are over 2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US with over 113,000 deaths, as of Thursday.

US coronavirus map: Tracking the outbreak

Stern applauded Penn's commitment and passion, which he said has often earned Penn a difficult reputation in the movie industry.

Even Penn agrees: "Am I difficult? Yeah."

"I will say I'm a person who feels and expresses energetically, and that has misled people into thinking I think it's all about me," the actor explained.

Penn quipped, "I sometimes think that I’d have a great love affair with humanity but (I’m) not too good about humans."

Penn is not only an accomplished actor (winning two Oscars for his work in "Mystic River" and "Milk"), the activist has also championed social causes. For example, his non-profit organization stepped in to help rebuild Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and the devastating Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Contributing: The Associated Press


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