Coronavirus Updates: Garcetti Warns 'At Least Two Months' for Quarantine as Coronavirus Cases Surge in L.A. County

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.

Today:

  • Coronavirus cases surge in L.A. County, nine deaths reported
  • Mayor Garcetti warns it may be "at least two months" in which they'll be quarantined
  • U.S. unemployment figures soar to 3.3. million, California tops 1 million claims
  • NBCUniversal chief Jeff Shell tells staff he has coronavirus

Coronavirus cases surge in L.A. County, nine deaths reported

The number of COVID-19 cases surged as the county stepped up testing with 421 new cases and nine deaths reported by Los Angeles County health officials on Thursday. That brings the total number of cases to 1,216 with 21 deaths. About one out of every five of those tested positive for COVID-19 have had to be hospitalized.

"Unfortunately, we have been expecting this," said Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director in a statement. "This dramatic increase in cases is due in part to increased testing capacity in LA County, which is allowing us to identify more positive cases. In order to slow the spread and save lives, all of us must do our part by staying home, adhering to all social distancing measures and caring for each other."

Two deaths previously reported have been dropped from the total including a minor from Lancaster whose cause of death is under investigation. The other individual was not a Los Angeles County resident.

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told residents that it may be "at least two months" in which they'll be quarantined at home, and that Staples Center and Hollywood studios could be used as makeshift hospitals if needed. Garcetti toldBusiness Insider "to be prepared for longer" despite comments from President Trump that he wants the nation to open back up by Easter.

Garcetti warned Los Angeles Wednesday that it is not acceptable for workers to return to their offices, warning that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is still to come. He said the Department of Water and Power will shut services for businesses that don't comply with the city's "safer at home" ordinance. California has the fourth-largest infected population with some 2,500 cases and 53 related deaths as of Thursday.

U.S. unemployment figures soar to 3.3. million, California tops 1 million claims

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The U.S. weekly job claims skyrocketed to a historic high of 3.3 million last week as efforts to contain the fast spreading coronavirus has shut down businesses and paused daily life. Californians were especially hard hit, with Gov. Gavin Newsom announcing on Wednesday that the state hit more than 1 million unemployment claims since March 13.

It comes as House prepares to vote on a historic $2 trillion stimulus package approved by the Senate on Wednesday. The emergency relief package would give most adults $1,200, although some would get less in a hope to stem the economic wreckage coronavirus has caused. An additional $500 payment would be given for children under 16 years of age.

NBCUniversal chief Jeff Shell tells staff he has coronavirus

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NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell told staff in a companywide memo on Thursday that he has tested positive for coronavirus. The longtime Hollywood leader oversees Universal Pictures, NBCUniversal, Telemundo, and NBC Entertainment. "I recently have been feeling under the weather and just learned that I have tested positive for COVID-19. Although the virus has been tough to cope with, I have managed to work remotely in L.A. and am improving every day," Shell said in the memo.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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