Coronavirus Updates: California's Grim Unemployment Numbers; Verizon Sees Streaming Lag

Coronavirus Updates: California's Grim Unemployment Numbers; Verizon Sees Streaming Lag

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.

  • Verizon data suggest pandemic behaviors are starting to reverse
  • California among three states reporting the highest level of unemployment claims

    Verizon data suggest pandemic behaviors are starting to reverse

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    Data released yesterday by Verizon suggest that pandemic-induced behaviors are starting to reverse. The telecommunications giant's latest report shows that, in the week to May 6:

    • Video streaming fell 11%
    • Collaboration tools fell 5%
    • Gaming fell 4%

    People also seem to be moving around more as stay-at-home mandates relax and the spring weather beckons. Movement from one cell site to another climbed 6.2% on the week -- "the biggest weekly gain since the COVID crisis began," Verizon reported. Such "handoffs" are still 18% lower than normal, however.

    "The network performance numbers definitely indicate a break in routines people have formed over the last several weeks during the pandemic," said Verizon's Chief Technology Officer.

    California among three states reporting the highest level of unemployment claims

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    California, which borrowed cash from the federal government to help pay for unemployment claims, was one of three states reporting the highest levels of initial claims in the nation. About 318,000 California workers filed initial claims for unemployment during the week that ended May 2, which was down slightly from the 325,000 who filed jobless claims for the week that ended April 25, the U.S. Labor Department reported.

    Overall, the U.S. said the number of Americans who filed for benefits topped three million for a seventh-straight week. That brought the seven-week total to about 33.5 million. California joined Texas and Georgia reporting the highest levels of unadjusted initial claims last week. Most states posted declines from the prior week. The economic downturn brought by the new coronavirus is expected to drive California into a $53.4 billion deficit over the next year with an unemployment rate projected well above its peak during the financial crisis in 2008., according to a memo released by Gov. Gavin Newsom's office Thursday.

    "California began 2020 with a strong bill of financial health—a strong economy, historic reserves, and a structurally balanced budget," according to the report. "The rapid onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has had an immediate and severe impact on the global, national, and state economies... The May Revision economic forecast reflects that COVID-19 impacts will continue to cause economic losses in 2020."

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    • Influencer marketing has surged during the pandemic as more consumers have moved online and brands have been forced to adapt to new challenges.
    • The rise of ecommerce and social media continues to usher in a wave of less formal and potentially cheaper marketing from online icons directly connected to audiences that brands can target.
    • Marketers expect the trend to continue, which could lead to more unexpected brand partnerships, like a KFC line of Crocs or Forever 21's Cheetos apparel.

    Mix together a cup of cold brew, three pumps of caramel syrup, a splash of whole milk and a generous portion of TikTok and you've got yourself "The Charli" – Dunkin' Donuts' new menu item promoted in partnership with Charli D'Amelio, a superstar social media influencer and the drink's namesake.

    Influencer marketing campaigns are not new, but the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated their appeal as companies have been forced to ramp up their online presence. Marketers expect that to continue, due to a combination of changing consumer behavior, a growing sophistication of data and analytics, and tighter ad budgets.

    As these forces take shape, subscription streaming services expand and cable's decline continues, could it spell the end of TV commercials?

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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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