Coronavirus Impact on SoCal Becomes More Apparent as Global Markets Remain Uneasy

As the novel coronavirus whipsawed global markets and shut down Italy, its toll on Southern California was becoming more apparent this week with the first possible case of community spread reported, hand sanitizer in short supply at local stores and businesses are asking employees to work from home.


At the Port of Los Angeles - long considered the gateway to Asia - shipments were expected to be down 25% and the dockworkers union and their employers sent out a bulletin to longshoreman about watching for symptoms and dealing with ships from China.

Snap confirmed it will live stream its partner summit online due to coronavirus threat. The move follows other tech conferences that have been called off, including Facebook's F8 and Google I/O. Quibi has canceled its April 5 red carpet launch event "out of an abundance of caution." The streaming service, run by Jeffrey Katzenberg and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, was scheduled to launch the following day.

And over the weekend, Cal State Long Beach announced in a campus email that 10 of its students and two advisors were in self-quarantine after attending a large event in Washington D.C the weekend before in which three people tested positive for COVID-19.

USC is in the midst of testing online only classes in the case it needs to be shut down and Cal State Long Beach spokesman Gregory Woods said officials have discussed moving instruction for the campus of nearly 37,000 students online.

"As of right now, our policy team is taking advice from local health officials and the chancellor's office," he said.

So far, 16 people have tested positive for the virus in Los Angeles County, top health official Barbara Ferrer reported on Monday.

But the rapidly-spreading virus is now in more than 35 states, as the number of known infections surpassed 500. Four GOP congressmen are in self-quarantine, after being exposed to somebody with the virus. In the tech hub of Seattle, Amazon and other tech companies are ordering their employees to stay home.

"We have seen lots of different closures mostly from tech and office jobs," said Kasey Edwards, the chief executive and co-founder of Helpr, an app that helps connect working parents with child care.

Venture capital firm M13 on Tuesday scheduled a conference call about "best practices for startup founders" managing teams that work from home. "In our new world order, working remotely is becoming the new norm," the company said in an email. The company's head of talent, Matt Hoffman, will lead the discussion later this week.

The startups' booking service also works with companies to provide credit to workers when a family member, like grandpa, takes care of a child. The bookings for that service jumped from 7% to 14% in the last week as tech companies asked their employees to work from home and more parents become concerned about who is taking care of their children. "We have been getting a lot of inquiries," she said.

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Fred Turner, the 25-year-old founder of Curative Inc., is the man behind L.A.'s push to bring universal testing to the region. But, he has bigger plans.

Turner, an Oxford dropout, just landed a deal with the Air Force to test military worldwide and he's now eyeing national expansion for his startup. By the end of this month, the company he started months ago is expected to pump out more than a million test kits a week.

"We are a strange company because our goal is to essentially put ourselves out of business," Turner said.

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