Sean Penn joins Supervisor Perez in launching free COVID-19 testing site in District 5

May 4, 2020 /

Joining Supervisor Leticia Perez Monday at the soft opening of a free COVID-19 testing site was CORE Founder and celebrity Sean Penn.

The free testing site aims to provide “desperately needed” testing to the underserved community of East Bakersfield, according to a news release. Perez said the testing is the first step to moving forward.

“It is no secret that many of our residents are the most medically underserved individuals,” Perez said of District 5 at Monday’s press conference. “One of the first steps in getting our society open, moving, working, and together again is this site you see here today, especially serving our most at-risk populations.”

Supervisor Leticia Perez speaks at a press conference announcing the soft opening of a free COVID-19 testing site.

Perez worked directly with Governor Newsom, the Community Organized Relief Effort, known as CORE, Verily, an Alphabet company, as well as Good Samaritan Hospital and Kern Health Systems to bring this test site to East Bakersfield and is a part of the Governor’s efforts to prioritize testing of essential workers, communities of color and low income communities.

The District 5 testing site only does diagnostic testing, which means health care provides will only be testing to check if residents are negative or positive for COVID-19. The site will not do antibody testing, according to Penn. Patients who are testing positive will be immediately notified as soon as the results are in so they can self-isolate as quickly as possible.

The District 5 testing site has the capacity to do 250 tests per day, but will eventually be able to do 500 a day, according to Christian Romo, a district representative for Chairwoman Perez.

The District 5 testing site is a drive thru only.

Penn joined local leaders at the press conference in reassuring residents the importance of taking precautions, such as practicing social distancing and wearing masks.

“Masks are a solidarity with the front line workers,” said Penn. “It crosses party lines, so wherever you are, wear a mask as if you would wear a ribbon to support troops. Wear a mask to show we are not divided.”

Penn said CORE was sent to set up the testing site in Bakersfield by the Governor’s orders.

The District 5 free testing site, which is open Sundays through Fridays, is located at the Richard Prado Senior Center, 2101 Ridge Road. It is a drive thru only and appointments are required.

“I hope the community understands coming to get tested is their part of citizenship,” said Penn.

This testing site is just one of four free testing sites set to open this week. Megan Person, the chief communications officer for Kern County, announced Monday a fourth testing site set to open this Wednesday at the North of the River Veterans Hall in Oildale.

The other sites will be located at the Kern County Fairgrounds, building 4 (open Tuesday through Saturday, walk in appointments); and the Mojave Veterans Memorial Building in Mojave (open Tuesday through Saturday, walk in appointments).

Appointments for all the sties can be made beginning today at Kerncounty.com or Kernpublichealth.com.

Featured photo: CORE founder and celebrity Sean Penn speaks at a press conference Monday announcing the soft opening on a free COVID-19 testing site.

Elizabeth Sanchez

Elizabeth Sanchez

Elizabeth Sanchez is the program associate for South Kern Sol. She can be reached at elizabeth@southkernsol.org.