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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    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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    Lambs co-founder and CEO Arthur Menard de Calenge got an urgent message several weeks ago. A customer who also happens to be a doctor said the hospital he works at was completely out of N95 masks and had run out of surgical masks, too. Doctors were coming to work wearing whatever they could find to cover their faces — ski masks, a scarf, bandana, whatever.

    The doctor had started creating homemade masks for himself with his sister, who would sew them, using a layer of Lambs' silver-lined "WaveStopper" fabric, along with a layer of sheets that have very dense knits.

    Since silver has been shown in studies to have some antiviral properties, "this was the best homemade solution he could create," Menard de Calenge said, "and so he actually reached out to see if we could help in providing more fabric to create those homemade masks for other doctors and the hospital."

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