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Sean Penn says COVID-19 vaccinations should be mandatory ‘like turning your headlights on … at night’

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Actor and film director Sean Penn said that everyone should be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, which he said should be as mandatory as “turning your headlights on in a car at night” during a CNN interview on Saturday.

CNN host Michael Smerconish asked Penn about the circumstances surrounding why he was holding off on working with the cast and crew of the “Gaslit” TV series. Variety reported that Penn had taken issue with the way that their studio, NBCUniversal, was managing COVID-19 requirements among its cast and crew.

The studio was requiring that all “Zone A” actors and crew members (those in close proximity) had to be vaccinated but did not impose that requirement on others, according to CNN. Penn has maintained that all actors and crew should be vaccinated.

“I didn’t want to feel complicit in something that was just taking care of one group, but not the other and I — and I do believe that everyone should get vaccinated,” Penn said. 

“I believe it should be mandatory, like turning your headlights on in a car at night, but obviously that’s not going to happen tomorrow and yet, at least it can happen in some areas and businesses, a lot of businesses are starting to take the lead on that. So I’ll go back to ‘Gaslit,’ I’ll go back when I can be assured that 100 percent of the crew has gotten vaccinated,” he continued.

Penn’s remarks underscore the tension felt between Americans, businesses and localities that have tried to find ways to manage COVID-19 as the delta variant spreads among unvaccinated populations, contributing to a surge of new COVID-19 cases. 

Some cities, including New York City and New Orleans, have started imposing proof of vaccination requirements to enter indoor facilities. For many schools, mask mandates have been imposed with some pointing to the fact that some students are not yet old enough to receive the COVID-19 vaccines.

The United States logged 157,450 new cases on Friday, per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A month prior, on July 20, the U.S. saw 52,765 new cases. 

According to the CDC, 71 percent of those ages 12 and older are partially vaccinated and 60 percent are fully vaccinated. 

Editor’s note: The author of this story is a former employee of NBC News, a brand of NBCUniversal.

Tags CDC COVID-19 Michael Smerconish Sean Penn vaccine mandate

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