Vaccines, masks, carrots, sticks

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Retired Registered Nurse Shirley Holston, right, gives a patient a second shot as Heart of Florida nurses worked on vaccinating people Friday afternoon, May 21, 2021 in the Heart of Florida Health Center's Vaccine Annex. Photo by Doug Engle/Reuters.

Masks are back. The CDC says even vaccinated Americans should resume wearing masks as the Delta variant sends case counts skyrocketing. But why are we still talking about masks when the most effective tool to fight COVID is the vaccines? What’s stalling government vaccine mandates for federal employees? Are we using carrots and sticks effectively?

Then: it’s not a bipartisan infrastructure framework anymore — it’s a bipartisan infrastructure deal. It includes hard infrastructure like roads, bridges and resiliency efforts to help adapt to climate change. Is it enough? And why have so many Republicans supported it?

With substantial Republican support in the Senate, progressives may have to pin hopes on the $3.5 trillion budget proposal that’s filled with programs for education, child care and paid family leave. They hope to pass it through budget reconciliation but moderate Democratic senator Kyrsten Sinema announced she opposed the price tag on that package in an almost evenly divided Senate. Are progressives going to get what they want?

Also: millions of American renters are still behind on rent, but the federal eviction moratorium is set to expire this weekend. There doesn’t seem to be an effort from the left to extend emergency unemployment insurance, either. Is that surprising? And when would be a good time to sunset pandemic aid programs?

Finally: why it’s okay to let your lawn go. Seriously.