A few months ago, many people felt that the Washington pandemic was easing. There was talk of workers returning to their offices and cities like Seattle to recover.
Some of it happens.
But the Delta variant challenged that optimism and resulted in another mask mandate along with vaccine requirements. Many companies are working smoothly under renewed mask requirements. Others, however, are buckling under the combined weight of the rising Covid cases and the ongoing homeless crisis.
“There is undoubtedly an underlying concern about public safety and homelessness – this feeling that the city government is not doing enough,” said columnist and political scientist Joni Balter in the KUOW segment “Friday Politics”.
Consider the popular uptown espresso. It closes its flagship location in Seattle’s Uptown neighborhood; the original of six cafes.
Balter spoke to Uptown Espresso owner Paul Odom to find out the details.
“The essential thing is that people who are homeless treat their main entrance and parts of their business as a toilet,” reports Balter. “He called the Lower Queen Anne business district a bowl of dust compared to what it was 10 years ago, for example.”
Still, she argues the pandemic won’t result in a second shutdown in Seattle. That’s because Seattle has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country and “vaccinated people go out and do things”.
Unvaccinated people apparently do too.
KIRO 7 government reporter Essex Porter agrees.
By and large, he says Seattle’s recovery is “fearfully optimistic”. Some of that fear would likely have been alleviated by the planned return of Amazon employees to their downtown offices, which was postponed until January 2022.
“Covid has changed both our work and our shopping habits,” says Porter. “We had a very busy, very affluent downtown when people thought it was safe to go shopping and go to the office.”
The keyword there is “safe”.
Porter and Balter agree: the city’s relative safety isn’t limited to the ups and downs of Covid-19.
It encompasses complex issues such as apparent homelessness and policing – issues that are effectively on the ballot for the November general election.