US President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at Erie International Airport in Erie, Pennsylvania on October 20 2020. REUTERS/TOM BRENNER
US President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at Erie International Airport in Erie, Pennsylvania on October 20 2020. REUTERS/TOM BRENNER

Covid-19 is surging to record levels in nearly every US state, including Illinois, which on Monday reported more than 3,000 new cases. Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot warned that the city was on the verge of another strict phase 3 lockdown — meaning no more indoor restaurant dining and social gatherings of more than 10 people — if cases kept surging past the current average of more than 500 a day.

On the same day, President Donald Trump makes derogatory remarks about the top US infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci. “People are tired of listening to Fauci and these idiots,” Trump said. “Every day he goes on TV, there’s always a bomb, but there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him ... Fauci is a disaster.”

We expect no better from the incompetent blowhard Trump, who repeatedly plays this virus down as no worse than the flu and holds campaign rallies with hundreds of maskless supporters. But he hit rock bottom by insulting Fauci. No matter how weary we are of mask-wearing, handwashing, social distancing and weekends without social gatherings, those steps are our best defence against Covid-19 until a vaccine becomes widely available.

Last month, the administration signalled the possibility of an “October surprise” vaccine, conveniently available right before election day. That was a lie. Now the administration is making matters worse by fighting to keep critical information about its $10bn vaccine development initiative secret.

For months, the Trump administration refused to provide legislators with detailed information on its coronavirus spending, including details of more than $6bn in contracts awarded to pharmaceutical groups that are developing a vaccine. These were awarded through a private firm acting for the government, an unusual move that leaves details shrouded in secrecy.

Legislators have proposed legislation requiring inclusion of such contracts in a public database of coronavirus spending. The bill has gone nowhere. We expect it will remain stalled until voters toss Trump and his administration out. /Chicago, October 19

Chicago Sun-Times

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