The pandemic times are a-changin': Today So Far
- Pandemic measures are easing up across Washington state. Here's a status check.
- Russia targets Ukraine with cyberattacks and disinformation campaign.
- The Seattle region is experiencing a boom in demand for office space.
This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for March 1, 2022.
The times, they are a-changin'. Let's go through all the pandemic measures that are easing up around us in Washington state.
- As of today, March 1, King County is ending its vaccine verification requirement at restaurants, bars, theaters, and other venues.
- The end of Washington's indoor mask mandate has been pushed up and will now lift on March 12. King County will lift its own mask mandate at the same time.
- The mask mandate for large outdoor events ended in February.
- Washington's pandemic emergency order remains in place for now.
It's important to note that mask rules will remain in place at hospitals, long term care facilities, and jails. Also, private businesses can make their own mask and/or vaccination rules. For example, Seattle's Octopus Bar is keeping its proof-of-vaccine requirement in place. Or Distant Worlds Coffeehouse which is keeping its masks on, and will continue to check vaccine cards for the rest of March before it reassesses. And of course, individuals can make their own choices. Personally, I'm keeping the mask on for another few months.
The reasoning behind scaling back pandemic measures, according to officials, has been an expected decline in cases and hospitalizations. That is turning out to be quite true. Washington state's case rate is still considered "high" at 241 cases per 100,000 people (things are considered less severe when it's under 100). But cases are dropping fast and hospitalizations are down. In King County, cases declined by 43% over the past week; hospitalizations are down 16% (King County hospitalizations are 3.3 per 100,000 people, amounting to 3% of all cases).
The first attack Russia launched against Ukraine didn't come in the form of missiles or soldiers — it was a cyberattack. Microsoft says it has detected a surge in cyberattacks targeting Ukraine, along with online disinformation campaigns. In a blog post, Microsoft President Brad Smith notes that the company started noticing malware and other cyberattacks hours before Russia started launching its first missiles into Ukraine. Smith said it's troubling that the cyberattacks not only targeted the military, but also "civilian infrastructure" which includes emergency services, energy and agricultural industries, and more. Smith is concerned these attacks violate the Geneva Convention. Read more here.
Finally, ever since the pandemic forced myself (and so many others) to work from home, I can confidently say that cases of the Mondays have gone down considerably at my desk. Every day is Hawaiian shirt day (at least, it's Magnum PI shirt day for me), and I can listen to the radio at a reasonable volume from 9 to 11. But office space is not going away, especially in Seattle.
The Seattle region is experiencing a boom in demand for office space. But experts say that it still won't be enough to handle the wave of work coming our way in the years ahead. A new report from the commercial estate firm CBRE states that Seattle is among the cities with the highest demand for offices. Much of this demand is being driven by the tech and science industries. It all means that things are gonna get even tighter around here. It's already difficult to fit everyone in town when it comes to places to live. With the expected job growth ahead, the region is going to have to find somewhere for everyone to work. Read more here.
Did you end up working from home over the past couple years? How did that go? Are you looking forward to returning to the office? Drop me a line and let me know.
Have a comment or want to reach out to me? Send me an email at email@example.com.
AS SEEEN ON KUOW
A demonstration at the University of Washington in support of Ukraine while Russia invaded the country, February 24, 2022. (Natalie Newcomb / KUOW)
DID YOU KNOW
After much anticipation from cinephiles (aka nerds), The Batman will be released into movie theaters this week. It's already garnering high marks from critics, something a DC film hasn't accomplished in a long time.
Did you know that you can take a "Science of Batman" college course at the University of Victoria in BC? The class, EPHE 156, is a physical education class based around the curiosity of whether a human being can actually train up to be the Batman seen in comics and film (acrobatic, martial artist, rope swinging, looks good in tights). The instructor, E. Paul Zehr, has even converted the course into a book, Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero in which he covers the science behind the character, such as biology, neuroscience, and of course physical training.
ALSO ON OUR MINDS
President Biden will deliver his first State of the Union address on Tuesday amid rising inflation and growing fatigue as the coronavirus pandemic is set to enter its third year and as Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine.