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.

Today:

  • 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.

    MGA Entertainment

    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

    upload.wikimedia.org

    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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    Venture capital has fueled billions of dollars in wealth but it has largely excluded black Americans. Only 1% of venture-funded startup founders are black and more than 80% of venture firms don't have a single black investor.

    Blck VC, a group of young black investors and entrepreneurs are calling on the venture capitalist community to diversify their ranks and support the black community. Declaring Thursday, June 4th, a day of action, the group launched a campaign called "We Won't Wait."

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