Coronavirus Updates: Tesla Steps Up for UCLA, ​LAUSD Closed Until May 1

Coronavirus Updates: Tesla Steps Up for UCLA, ​LAUSD Closed Until May 1

The coronavirus pandemic's emergence has changed the world around us. Conferences have been cancelled, travel has been severely restricted, and working from home has become the norm. But less clear is the scale of the economic impact and how companies should be reacting. Here are the latest headlines regarding how the novel coronavirus is impacting the Los Angeles startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for the latest updates.


Manufacturers Asked to Convert Factories to Make Critical Supplies: "We Need All Hands on Deck"; 20,000 Test Kits Purchased, More to Come

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Los Angeles city and county officials are ramping up novel coronavirus testing significantly, announcing on Monday they secured 20,000 test kits that can be processed at a rate of 5,000 a day. Priority will be given to first health care workers and first responders.

Los Angeles city officials also have an additional 100,000 tests kits have been procured from South Korea-based Seegene Technologies that will be made free to the public. County officials also announced a partnership with Curative Inc, a Bay Area company that set up shop earlier this month to produce test kits in San Dimas and is now making 1,000 a day.

As of March 20, roughly 2,400 people had been tested in Los Angeles County. Experts say that without widespread testing, it's difficult to understand where there are outbreaks and contain them.

The announcement came as the number of cases in the county shot up to 536, with 128 new cases announced on Monday. About 80% of the cases are from people ages 18-65. And of those positive cases, 90 have been hospitalized at some point, said Barbara Ferrer, the head of the county's public health department.

With hospital bracing for a surge and anticipating a shortage in supplies like swabs, testing trays, gloves, masks and other materials, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez called on manufacturers to convert their factories to help.

"We're calling on all factories and manufacturers in Southern California who have the ability to convert their production lines to do it as soon as possible," Martinez said. "We need all hands on deck to properly address this crisis with the speed and scale it requires."

Los Angeles county is the nation's hub of manufacturing.

"We should not wait for the president to use the Defense Production Act," she said.

Reporting by Rachel Uranga. Follow her at @racheluranga

LAUSD closed until May 1, Verizon to provide internet at home for needy students

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Los Angeles Unified School District schools will remain closed through May 1, Superintendent Austin Beutner announced Monday as officials scramble to stem the spread of the fast-moving novel coronavirus. Meanwhile, the nation's second largest district has brokered a deal with Verizon to provide internet connectivity at their home as instruction has moved online. The district has one of the highest concentration of low-income students in the state with 80 percent qualifying for free and reduced lunches. It's estimated about one out of five LAUSD K-12 students don't have access to the internet.

"The digital divide is very real, as many as 100,000 of our students lack access to the internet at home," Superintendent Austin Beutner said in a statement. "We must find a way for all students to continue to learn while schools are closed and this partnership with Verizon will help to do that." Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

Reporting by Rachel Uranga. Follow her at @racheluranga

Tesla Ships Masks, Supplies to UCLA Medical Center

UCLA said Elon Musk's Tesla has begun shipping vital supplies to regional hospitals as part of the company's effort to help with disruptions. The electric car giant tweeted: "Glad we can help! We're sending masks and supplies to as many hospitals as we can."

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It's never been a better time to "murder your thirst."

Seven months after raising more than $9 million in Series A funding, Santa Monica-based canned water startup Liquid Death has raised $23 million in Series B funding.

The round was led by an unnamed consumer-focused family office and participated in by Convivialité Ventures, Fat Mike (NOFX), Pat McAfee, existing investor in Velvet Sea Ventures and others.

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The headlines seem to come every day now. From VC investment to audience growth, all metrics point to an explosion in the popularity of esports, even before the COVID-19 pandemic sent many people indoors. Now, as leagues, developers, publishers, players and the media all sit poised to ride this wave, it's important for all of us, especially the industry veterans, to pause and take a look at the bigger picture.

How do we ensure that this new influx of users and players become a true part of the community – not just for the short term, but for years to come?

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