Sunday, May 22nd - Saturday, May 28th, 2022
In brief: Downtown tourism has reached 70-90% of its pre-pandemic levels, while office occupancy lags at 22-33%; as the fifth wave continues to spread, including to Governor Inslee himself, public health officials are recommending that we all wear masks indoors again; the first case of monkeypox was confirmed in King County (but there's no need to panic); the City Council approved SPD hiring bonuses; and Washington state already has some of the toughest gun control laws in the country.
Editor's note: This week's newsletter has been triaged due to time constraints. Click here for the most recent Seattle Times COVID infographics. 
Top Stories
Many forms of downtown tourism have reached 70-90% of their pre-pandemic levels, while office occupancy lags at 22-33% due to the enduring popularity of working from home. [Seattle Times]
Public health officials are strongly encouraging Washingtonians to resume wearing face masks indoors in the face of dramatically rising COVID case numbers, one of which was Governor Inslee himself on Wednesday, but they're stopping short of implementing new mask mandates. Hospitalizations are also increasing steadily, but deaths are so far continuing to remain flat. [Seattle Times]

The state Department of Health confirmed Washington's first case of monkeypox--which is spread primarily through sexual contact, is rarely life-threatening and easily treatable using drugs that have been around for decades, and shows no signs of becoming an epidemic. [KING 5MyNorthwest]

The City Council authorized $1 million in hiring incentives and a national ad campaign to attract more new recruits to SPD, which has lost a net 255 officer since 2020. [Seattle Times, KING 5, MyNorthwest]

The King County Council formally confirmed Patti Cole-Tindall as the new King County Sheriff. [MyNorthwest]

Newly released city-level Census data showed that Seattle had a net loss of 4,300 residents from July of 2020 through July of 2021, or 0.6% of its population, a significantly smaller percentage than Bellevue's net loss in the same period (2,400 people, or 1.6% of its population) and a smaller loss than many of our peer cities across the country, including Portland, Boston, Denver, Washington D.C., New York, and San Francisco (which topped the charts with a 6.4% decline). [Seattle Times]

Thanks in large part to our high minimum wage, in 2020 Seattle ranked 20th out of the 50 largest cities in American in terms of our income inequality gap between the average household income for the top 20% and the bottom 20% of earners (click through for a great graph). [Seattle Times]

InvestigateWest looked at the difficulties for many low-income renters caused by a lack of clarity around what kinds of wear and tear landlords are allowed to charge tenants for when they move out. [Crosscut/InvestigateWest]

Josh Cohen wrote a great explainer on the new House Our Neighbors campaign for "social housing," and how it compares both to programs in other countries and to the existing ways that affordable housing is financed and built in Seattle. [Crosscut]

And in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting, several news outlets highlighted Washington's existing gun control laws, which are among the strongest in the nation. [KING 5, MyNorthwest]
Ending on a high note
Tomorrow night we may or may not experience a rare once-in-a-lifetime meteor storm (as opposed to a meteor shower), the last of which happened in 1966 and involved as many as 40 shooting stars per second. Find somewhere with clear skies to watch for it if you can; whether it turns out to be a meteor shower or a meteor storm, activity should peak around 10 pm Seattle time. 

Sol Villarreal
Broker, Windermere Real Estate
Sol's Civic Minute: What's happening in Seattle, in 60 seconds per week.
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