Coronavirus Updates: Mattel Using Fabric from Barbie to Make Face Masks, Virgin Orbit Designs Ventilator

Coronavirus Updates: Mattel Using Fabric from Barbie to Make Face Masks, Virgin Orbit Designs Ventilator

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.


  • Disney's Iger won't take a salary, other executives take pay cuts
  • Virgin Orbit Designs Mass-Producible Ventilator for COVID-19 Patients
  • Coronavirus claims 342 new cases in Los Angeles County
  • Mattel using fabric made for Barbie to create face masks

      Mattel orders factories to use fabric designed for Barbie to make face masks

      Mattel Chairman and CEO Ynon Kreiz said the toymaker's plants in El Segundo and East Aurora, NY are "producing face masks from Barbie and Fisher-Price fabric" to help battle the shortage inundating the nation's hospitals. He said the company also plans to create face shields from materials at both factories. "We are ensuring social distancing and safe working environments for our dedicated production teams who are taking on the challenge," Kreiz said in a statement. "These masks will be distributed to hospitals and first responders later this week." He added that the company is "comitted to using our resources to contribute as much as we can to fight COVID-19."

      New coronavirus cases climb past 2,400 in LA county, 44 deaths

      Seven more people died of novel coronavirus in Los Angeles County and there are 342 new cases, public health officials said Monday. There have now been 2,474 cases in the county and 44 deaths as of noon. About 20% of those tested positive for COVID-19 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness.

      "The greatest service the general public can provide is to stay home, to self-isolate when sick and to self-quarantine if exposed," said county health director Barbara Ferrer. "These measures will make the biggest impact in our efforts to mitigate the infection rate in the county."

      Meanwhile, officials are increasingly worried that the fast-moving virus will spread inside the county's crowded jail system after an inmate and four people who work in the Los Angeles County jails came down with the illness, the Los Angeles Times reported.

      Virgin Orbit designs mass-producible ventilator for COVID-19 patients

      Rocket-maker Virgin Orbit has developed a bridge ventilator with university researchers that it will produce in Long Beach and deliver to overburdened hospitals battling COVID-19 within the next week.

      Richard Branson's company must still get approval from the Food and Drug Administration before it can begin production at its manufacturing facility where it normally builds rockets to launch satellites into space. The company started the process after reaching out to California Gov. Gavin Newsom's office last week and being put in touch with a team at the University of California, Irvine and the University of Texas Austin working on bridge ventilators.

      "We are all heartbroken each night as we turn on the news and see the predicament facing doctors and nurses as they heroically work to save lives," said Virgin Orbit chief executive Dan Hart in a statement. "We are hopeful that this device can help as we all prepare for the challenges ahead."

      The company said it would continue to scale up production and could activate other manufactures as "soon as thee device is reproducible and production ready."

      Virgin Orbit's device compresses medical ambu bags, which helps patients with COVID-19 to breathe by delivering air to the lungs.

      Disney's Iger won't take a salary, other executives take pay cuts amid COVID-19

      The Walt Disney Co. said Monday that executive chairman Robert Iger will not take a salary and recently named CEO Bob Chapek will take a 50% pay cut amid the coronavirus crisis. The company will also reduce salaries of vice presidents, senior vice presidents and executive vice presidents. The furloughs come as Disney's theme parks around the world have been closed down, and filming for the company's movie studio and ABC television programming have seized up.

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      How Real-Time Data Is Helping Physicians Track Their Patients, One Heartbeat at a Time

      S.C. Stuart
      S.C. Stuart is a foreign correspondent (ELLE China, Esquire Latin America), Contributing Writer at Ziff Davis PCMag, and consults as a futurist for Hollywood Studios. Previously, S.C. was the head of digital at Hearst Magazines International while serving as a Non-Executive Director, UK Trade & Investment (US) and Digital Advisor at The Smithsonian.
      How Real-Time Data Is Helping Physicians Track Their Patients, One Heartbeat at a Time

      Are you a human node on a health-based digital network?

      According to research from Insider Intelligence, the U.S. smart wearable user market is poised to grow 25.5% in 2023. Which is to say, there are an increasing number of Angelenos walking around this city whose vital signs can be tracked day and night via their doctor's digital device. If you've signed up to a health-based portal via a workplace insurance scheme, or through a primary care provider's portal which utilizes Google Fit, you’re one of them.

      Do you know your baseline health status and resting heartbeat? Can you track your pulse, and take your own blood pressure? Have you received genetic counseling based on the sequencing of your genome? Do you avoid dairy because it bloats, or because you know you possess the variant that indicates lactose intolerance?

      Read moreShow less

      Who Will Win LA's E-scooter Wars?

      Maylin Tu
      Maylin Tu is a freelance writer who lives in L.A. She writes about scooters, bikes and micro-mobility. Find her hovering by the cheese at your next local tech mixer.
      Who Will Win LA's E-scooter Wars?
      Evan Xie

      Los Angeles — it’s not just beautiful weather, traffic and the Hollywood Walk of Fame — it’s also the largest shared micromobility market in the U.S. with six operators permitted to deploy up to 6,000 vehicles each.

      And despite the open market policy, the competition shows no signs of slowing down.

      Read moreShow less

      March Capital Raises $650 Million Fund to Invest in AI Startups

      Samson Amore

      Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

      March Capital Raises $650 Million Fund to Invest in AI Startups
      March Capital founder Jamie Montgomery. Illustration by Dilara Mundy.

      Santa Monica-based venture outfit March Capital announced Feb. 3 that it raised its largest fund to date, a $650 million investment vehicle that will be used to back up to 15 startups focused on delivering new uses of artificial intelligence.

      Read moreShow less