Bill Radke reviews the week’s news with PubliCola publisher and editor Erica C Barnett, Seattle Met digital editor Zoe Sayler, and Crosscut reporter David Kroman.
Seattle is the first large city to reach 70% fully vaccinated. A press release from Mayor Durkan’s office on Wednesday said that 78% of Seattleites 12 and up have had at least one shot, and that the city has administered nearly 250,000 vaccinations for about 131,000 individuals. Governor Inslee touted that Washington state is nearing the same goal – with 66.4% of residents having received at least one dose of the vaccine as of this week. And one thing that could help Washington reach that 70% line is the vaccine lottery. This week marked the first of five lottery drawings. A person only going by Lance R. won $250,000. And a few other people have also won prizes – though not all of them have been claimed yet. A lottery spokesperson said that while they’ve been reaching out to prize winners via phone, not everyone seems to be checking their voicemail.
While things are looking up pandemic-wise here in Washington, one thing that may stick with many people long after it’s over is the messaging they’ve been receiving from media, advertisements, and family members. The National Eating Disorders Association helpline has had a 40 percent jump in overall call volume since March 2020. And it’s not just eating disorders that have risen – a study last fall by the Journal of the American Medical Association found the number of women drinking four or more drinks within a few hours jumped 41 percent. Could this be a long term issue derived from the pandemic?
This week also marks the one year anniversary of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest. A group called CHOP Art had planned to commemorate the anniversary with a street fair – they had spent the last six months working with the city to create a “Black renaissance fair” on the site of the protest. Now the city has backed out, denying the necessary permit to hold the event. The ACLU of Washington and Public Defender Association have sent a letter to the city attorney’s office calling the decision “unconstitutional” and saying “we may need to take emergency legal action” if the city doesn’t act. Why deny this permit so last minute?
On Monday the Seattle City council passed three bills to stave off an impending homelessness crisis. The trio of bills provide a defense for students and school employees at risk of eviction during the school year, require housing providers to offer lease renewals in certain cases, and add more preventative measures to keep evictions down post-pandemic. The council also asked Mayor Durkan and Governor Inslee to extend the statewide eviction moratorium to the end of 2021. How long should the eviction moratorium stay in place?
Finally – Amazon has announced it will allow corporate employees to work from home two days a week. That includes its 50,000 workers in the Puget Sound area. It’s a change in direction for the company, which in March said it wanted a “return to an office-centric culture.” The switch in Amazon’s policy could have something to do with the fact that, as a recent study shows, tech and aerospace work in the area is a huge contributor to burnout due to longer days, minimal time off, and shorthanded teams. Does working from home improve burnout, or does it just blur the lines between work and leisure?