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

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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Ben Bergman

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.

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