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Navigating Public Health Crises: CORE’s Learnings from the COVID-19 Pandemic 

May, 24 2021

In reflecting on the end of the COVID-19 National Emergency Declaration, CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) co-founder Sean Penn and board member Ken Keen penned an op-ed that has been published by Newsweek. 

The article, entitled “Excessive Regulation on NGOs Amid Crises Cost Lives,” emphasizes the critical role played by CORE and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) during this unprecedented crisis. It highlights CORE’s commitment to action in a time of chaos, underlining how the organization managed to be both adaptable and innovative amid the worst public health crisis in a century.

CORE’s ability to create momentum, scale operations, and collaborate effectively with other organizations is examined, demonstrating how the global humanitarian relief organization became instrumental in the development of the largest testing and vaccination site in the world at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. CORE’s commitment to open-source knowledge sharing was also pivotal, ensuring that evolving processes and strategies could be implemented by other NGOs and community groups in real time. Furthermore, the article critically evaluates the ongoing challenges faced by NGOs during crisis situations, including stringent regulations and legal complexities, that can impede humanitarian actors’ capacity to deliver essential services.

As Penn and Keen note, the need for better preparation and crisis response reform is clear, as is the necessity for government agencies to offer reasonable exemptions to NGOs during emergency situations. Despite these challenges, CORE remained dedicated to overcoming these obstacles throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and is committed to being prepared to respond to future crises.  


Read the full op-ed to learn more about the lessons taken from the COVID-19 pandemic to better prepare for future global crises.