These balls are staying (mostly) empty.
These balls are staying (mostly) empty. Timothy Kenney

🚨Cue alarm bells across downtown Seattle🚨 As COVID-19 hospitalizations in the area increase, Amazon is moving back its return-to-work date for its white-collar workers to January 2022, reports the Seattle Times. Previously, Amazon planned on bringing back its workers to offices by September 7 (eds. note—that's my birthday). "The delay affects the roughly 60,000 people working in Amazon’s offices in Seattle and Bellevue, as well as tens of thousands more corporate Amazon employees worldwide," notes Katherine Anne Long for the Times.

THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP – A Penny Dreadful, playing Feb. 8-26 at Intiman Theatre
Laugh till it hurts at this outrageous camp comedy the NYTimes calls “Wickedly funny!”

The change is likely rough news for the Downtown Seattle Association, and it's probably great news for the Amazon employees who threatened to "leave the company" if forced to return to in-person work full-time. We're still thinking about this kayaking line, published in the Seattle Times back in March:

If forced to come into the office five days a week, “I’d want to leave the company,” said a Seattle-area Amazon Web Services (AWS) employee in an interview. Like every Amazon employee interviewed for this article, he requested anonymity in order to speak freely about his future plans. “When I used to be in the office, it felt like everyone was already watching you clock in and out. Now, my work is getting done and that’s what matters.”

His performance ratings have drastically improved, he’s getting better sleep and he often finds time to go hiking or kayaking during the workday, he said. While his direct manager seems open to the idea of letting employees keep working from home part time, division leadership has insisted workers return to the office, leaving him, for now, “in limbo,” he said.

The local bookseller says it also won't require its employees to show proof of vaccination to return to work: Most of its competitors, including Microsoft, will.

Amazon also doesn't require proof of vaccination for its warehouse workers, who continue to churn and burn out through the pandemic: “They don’t care that people don't have to get a vaccine and are working right next to us," one worker told NBC News recently. "We really don’t know what to do. We’re doing our best because most of us have bills we have to pay.”

In other Amazon news: The 35,000-square-foot Amazon Fresh store located at 23rd & Jackson will open next week on Thursday, August 12. It's one of those “Just Walk Out” stores with the freaky little cameras. UPDATE: A company rep told us Amazon "will not have JWO technology at the Seattle Jackson store, only Dash Carts."

We've got another ballot update: The biggest news is that three-term incumbent Pete Holmes is in fucking trouble in the Seattle City Attorney's race, and Seattle's in for an INTERESTING GENERAL ELECTION FACE-OFF INDEED.

Our favorite doctor, Dr. Duchin, the health officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County, says he still doesn't do indoor public dining: He also avoids crowds. "Risk is additive," Duchin said today during an afternoon briefing. "The risks you take add up. To lower your risk of COVID-19, do fewer risky things." Here's KING 5:

Despite the rise in cases, Duchin said that he is not considering any restrictions because the King County health care system is not being overwhelmed yet and death rates remain stable, adding that he's optimistic more people will seek the vaccine.

"People are not stupid. People are smart. They know that when folks around them are getting sick and hospitalized, and young people are ending up in the intensive care unit with breathing tubes, you know, that’s not a good thing," he said. "And people will see that and want to protect themselves. I am convinced."

More and more public health experts are lining up to agree: The Delta variant of COVID is very "different," and no matter where you live in America—vaccinated or not—you should be masking up indoors and getting tested if you have symptoms.

If not for yourself, mask up for the kids: COVID-19 passed between children is forcing childcare centers across Washington state to shut down temporarily, according to the Washington Childcare Centers Association. The shutdowns further burden already-burdened parents. Prepare for another bumpy fall.

In a surprise move this afternoon, the Sound Transit Board unanimously passed an amendment that would accelerate three Seattle station timelines, including two stations in Seattle’s South End. Andrew Engelson has more on Slog.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott—in an apparent bid to see if he can out-Trump Trump—is calling a second special session with the intention of not only restricting voting rights, but to ban masks at school, ramp up immigration enforcement, and prevent trans kids from playing on sports teams. WHAT A PRINCE.

In related news... We're just going to leave this paragraph right here: "A Texas Republican leader who was hospitalized with COVID-19 died Wednesday, just days after he shared a post on social media questioning the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine."

Heads-up: The Montlake Bridge near UW is closing for 26 days starting August 9. It'll reopen on September 3. The walkways in both directions will stay open for pedestrians and bicyclists, but the Washington State Department of Transportation won't permit drivers to pass. They need to replace the bridge's steel grid deck.

In #FreeBritney news: Britney Spears's lawyer has filed a court motion to immediately remove her father, Jamie Spears, as the conservator of her estate. She's hoping to replace him with a forensic accountant to sniff out if there's been any misuse of funds while dad was holding the purse strings.

This week, King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht ordered all of her noncommissioned office staff at the King County Courthouse to work remotely immediately: Around 60 employees had already started working remotely, the Sheriff’s Office told the Seattle Times, but the attempted rape of a woman in the courthouse last week led Johanknecht to order "professional staff members who do not routinely interact with the public" to work remotely full-time. County officials will "discuss safety solutions," while the duties of commissioned deputies will stay the same. Some courthouse workers are holding a rally tomorrow afternoon.

Though the journey was rocky with occasional shocking losses, the US Women's soccer team still pulled through with a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics after defeating Australia, 4-3.

Congrats, Roosevelt High School grad Nevin Harrison! The 19-year-old from Seattle earned the first-ever Olympic gold medal given out in the women’s 200-meter canoe sprint.