This past week, our Center established a collaboration with the Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), founded by actor Sean Penn to expand COVID-19 testing efforts with the Navajo Nation and the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Diagnostic testing is a cornerstone of a sound public health response, urgently needed in Native communities where the virus is spreading rapidly.
Mr. Penn and CORE’s CEO, Ann Lee, who is a Johns Hopkins alum (School of Advanced International Studies 2004), met our Infectious Disease Program lead, Dr. Laura Hammitt, last Friday, May 1 in Tuba City, AZ to see the needs of Navajo Nation firsthand.
They visited several hospitals and community sites and met with Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. CORE has committed to fund-raise and work side-by-side with our Center to expand diagnostic testing and related wraparound services in both tribal nations. This effort parallels CORE’s drive-through testing initiative in major U.S. cities including Mr. Penn’s hometown of Los Angeles.
The Center was connected with CORE through the Rockefeller Foundation, with particular advocacy by Ann Rockefeller Roberts, the granddaughter of one of the founders of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Ms. Rockefeller Roberts responded to our call that the national testing strategy being mounted by the Rockefeller Foundation needed to include tribal communities, who were among the most vulnerable to the virus. Ms. Rockefeller Roberts has spent her life advocating for the rights and well-being of Indigenous peoples.