Tech exec apologizes after holding convention that led to 24 people testing positive for COVID-19

A Los Angeles-based entrepreneur is apologizing after holding an in-person conference that got 24 people testing positive for COVID-19.

Peter Diamandis, founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation in Culver City, explained in his blog that every year, he hosts a tech conference called Abundance 360. The plan was to hold the in-person convention at a hotel in Los Angeles in January 2021, but the pandemic forced Diamandis to cancel that idea.

As an alternative option, Diamandis explained in his blog that he put together an "immunity bubble," bringing in a smaller group of attendees for an in-person convention at XPRIZE's offices and testing them every morning on-site.

On top of putting together a mask mandate, social distancing guidelines and "immunity boosting" procedures, Diamandis explained in his blog that the convention yielded more than 400 COVID-19 tests involving event attendees, faculty and support staff over the course of four days (from January 23 through 26).

Despite the efforts, Diamandis said he and 23 others tested positive for the virus.

"The bottom line is that I am sincerely and deeply sorry for the consequences of the choices we made. As a scientist, engineer and medical person, I believed we were using the very best that science had to offer. And I trusted that an immunity bubble was a 'real thing,'" Diamandis said in his blog. "I no longer believe that."

Diamandis held the event just days before Los Angeles County health officials urged residents to not attend Super Bowl parties, which kicked off Sunday, February 7. Even prior to the Super Bowl weekend -- and over the course of the pandemic -- health officials had urged Angelenos to avoid holding and attending gatherings.

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