Coronavirus Updates: Disney Donates Masks; Cases in L.A. County Surge; L.O.L. Surprise! Makers Create 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 donates masks to hospitals in California, New York and Florida
- More than 3,500 coronavirus cases in L.A. County; new worries about asymptomatic carriers
- L.O.L. Surprise! maker creates ventilator prototype, launches $5 million fund for healthcare workers
L.O.L. Surprise! maker creates ventilator prototype, launches $5 million fund for healthcare workers
Health care workers receive masks and other protective gear.
The maker of L.O.L Surprise!, Chatsworth-based MGA Entertainment has launched a nonprofit to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and is working on a ventilator prototype.
Chief executive Isaac Larian, whose company has production facilities on contract in China, said he started to order masks from his suppliers after hearing from friends in the medical field who couldn't find needed supplies.
"They couldn't get protection," he said. Next week, he expects a shipment of 200,000 masks to arrive.
Dubbed Operation Pac-Man, the fund will go towards procuring personal protective equipment for health care workers, the company. Larian promises that funds donated will be matched and he's committed $5 million to start the effort.
Meanwhile, the designers at MGAE have created a prototype ventilator that's being tested at UCLA, Larian said. He plans to produce it at the company's Little Tikes factory in Hudson, Ohio.
"We are going to move fast on this," he said. "We expect to go into production late next week."
More than 3,500 coronavirus cases in L.A. County; new worries about asymptomatic carriers
As the number of novel coronavirus cases continued to climb past 3,500 in the county, public health officials warned there's growing evidence asymptomatic carriers of the virus could be spreading it.
"There are people who are infected with COVID -19, but don't have any symptoms and for some of these people there is also evidence that they are able to spread the infection," said the county's director of public health Barbara Ferrer during her daily briefing.
The novel coronavirus has claimed 11 more lives in the county and has infected 513 more people, county health officials said on Wednesday. There's now 3,518 individuals that have been infected and 65 that have died.
She warned that people should continue to take precautions, even if a person doesn't appear sick.
About 20% of those that have tested positive for the fast-moving virus have been hospitalized. Of those, Ferrer said 76% had no documented underlying health conditions.
"Everyone should take seriously the fact that they are at risk not only for illness for COVID-1 but for serious illness," she said.
Disney donates masks to hospitals in California, New York and Florida
Disney Parks has donated 100,000 N95 masks to the states of New York, California and Florida, the company announced through its Disney Parks Blog on Wednesday. In the same announcement Disney said the Parks unit had also donated 150,000 rain ponchos to MedShare, a humanitarian aid group, which will distribute the gear to hospitals. The need for masks is clear, but why ponchos? On March 20, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published an article calling for ideas to address the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). The article received over 100,000 views and yielded more than 250 comments, with many more ideas sent straight to JAMA editors. On March 28, JAMA published a summary of the recommendations, which included repurposing ponchos for gowns. "The idea was inspired by nurses across the country who inventively found that rain ponchos can be an excellent way to protect their clothing and prolong the use of PPE, while also freeing up gowns when needed," Disney's statement said.
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I wasn't a believer until I saw him in action. At a Tom Ferry event at the Seattle Convention Center, I observed thousands of people worshipping Tom Ferry, then and now, a legendary real estate coach, as he doled out words of wisdom during his presentations.
In many ways, Tom learned from the best. His dad is Mike Ferry, also a legendary real estate coach. Tom started working in sales at his dad's company, the Mike Ferry Organization, at 19. He eventually earned the position of president.
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Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 75 companies and is incubating several more.
Despite — or in many cases because of — the raging pandemic, 2020 was a great year for many tech startups. It turned out to be an ideal time to be in the video game business, developing a streaming ecommerce platform for Gen Z, or helping restaurants with their online ordering.
But which companies in Southern California had the best year? That is highly subjective of course. But in an attempt to highlight who's hot, we asked dozens of the region's top VCs to weigh in.
We wanted to know what companies they wish they would have invested in if they could go back and do it all over again.
Hottest<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MzIyNS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1OTQ3MjQ2OH0.JYCNMjYvosYa5SI7701CH_jMFbeFdMcRCChXt442cq0/image.png?width=980" id="3927d" width="686" height="128" data-rm-shortcode-id="5defd5b7e1983aa7681f36d6e1783a7b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="PopShop Live logo" />
Boiling<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MzIyOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MzI5MjYwMn0.h7Nq7GiwXTcg_7Io5WEXblFX0rWQHxn69RzluTh7n_Q/image.png?width=980" id="4e424" width="361" height="93" data-rm-shortcode-id="b53f9030fdb96b08d7cfdb5383c97bfb" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Scopely logo" />
Simmering<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MzMxNi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NjM4MjQ5Mn0.XSHQfru9tTpdeBqd_ecb--8DiZg_vdyOtF9ZV9zAG78/image.png?width=980" id="839d0" width="455" height="111" data-rm-shortcode-id="79ffc10f23fc7ca1572d55df3f299f85" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Warming Up<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk5MzYwOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MzQ1MzE4OX0.fS5XtGx4M-tqWecrth6NCHawGSg2aSkb-yR-cY3wbtU/image.png?width=980" id="4fca7" width="600" height="600" data-rm-shortcode-id="6a5ba1810dd71af400ee8f61634cc56e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
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Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.