Six New Coronavirus Cases in L.A. Venues, Schools Warned to Prep

Rachel Uranga

Rachel Uranga is dot.LA's Managing Editor, News. She is a former Mexico-based market correspondent at Reuters and has worked for several Southern California news outlets, including the Los Angeles Business Journal and the Los Angeles Daily News. She has covered everything from IPOs to immigration. Uranga is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and California State University Northridge. A Los Angeles native, she lives with her husband, son and their felines.

Six New Coronavirus Cases in L.A. Venues, Schools Warned to Prep

Los Angeles County officials declared a health emergency Wednesday as they confirmed six new cases of coronavirus, and warned schools and business may need to be closed if COV1D-19 continues to spread.

"I want to reassure everyone, we are not there today," said L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. "We don't have community transmission, that we know about."


All of the new cases were linked to someone who had recently traveled or been exposed to an infected person.

"We have asked (venues) to make sure that they too are well prepared, and that they're making it easy for people to practice our public health hygiene," Ferrer said during a Wednesday morning news conference.

In the meantime, health officials asked people to stay six feet away from others, frequently wash their hands, and avoid handshakes and hugs.

A family physician posted at the Montgomery Summit, where about 1,000 are expected to come for an intense two-day summit of top-flight investors and entrepreneurs, was not aware that officials were issuing new guidance. Dr. Myron Shapero fielded a handful of calls from attendees, but the announcement hasn't changed his view that the conference should go on. "Everyone has to be on guard, washing their hands and if you are sick stay away and see your doctor," he said. But he said, the idea that people can stay six feet away from others is "impossible to accomplish."

Officials will be releasing updated information on how schools and businesses can prevent the spread of the fast-moving virus, but they warned if COVID-19 spreads it could force large gatherings to be shut down,

"If at any point, we think that there's good reason for us to be worried about extensive community transmission, (venues) have been alerted to the possibility that we may ask for modifications at large public events," she said. "This could be that games are played but there are no spectators. This could be that there are limits to how people are going to gather at public events,"

Jamie Montgomery, whose March Capital holds the summit in Santa Monica, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday morning. But Montgomery told dot.LA Monday that he struggled with the decision over whether to move forward as other companies were shutting down their conferences.

Facebook yanked its annual F8 developer meeting in May, the Game Developers Conference scheduled in San Francisco for later this month was canceled, and the YPO Edge summit planned for March was dropped.

In Italy, where there has been an outbreak of coronavirus officials soccer matches have been played in empty fields and officials are closing schools.

So far, there have been 92,000 cases of the virus and 3,100 deaths worldwide.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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