Obama slams politicians for COVID-19 response as U.S. death toll surpasses 90,000

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Image: Phoebe Seip, a graduating student at Torrey Pines High School, and her sisters watch Barack Obama deliver a virtual commencement address in San Diego, Calif., on May 16, 2020.
Phoebe Seip, a graduating student at Torrey Pines High School, and her sisters watch Barack Obama deliver a virtual commencement address in San Diego, California, on May 16, 2020.Bing Guan / Reuters

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Former President Barack Obama slammed U.S. politicians for their handling of the coronavirus pandemic at a virtual commencement address to graduating high school seniors across the country on Saturday night.

"Doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy, that’s how little kids think. Unfortunately a lot of so-called grownups, including some with fancy titles, important jobs, still think that way, which is why things are so screwed up," he said without naming President Donald Trump or his administration.

He was speaking at the televised "Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020" event hosted by NBA star LeBron James that included appearances from the Jonas Brothers, Megan Rapinoe, Pharrell Williams, Maren Morris and Malala Yousafzai.

At another virtual commencement ceremony for graduates of historically black colleges and universities, Obama offered his most public and direct criticism yet of the Trump administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

"More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing," he said. "A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge."

His comments came a day before the U.S. death toll surpassed 90,000, with almost 1.5 million cases recorded, according to an NBC News tally. Globally, 311,827 have died and there have been more than 4.6 million infections, according to John Hopkins University data.

Here's what to know about the coronavirus, plus a timeline of the most critical moments:

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This live coverage has ended. Continue reading May 18 coronavirus news.

Mexico reports 47,144 cases, 5,045 deaths

MEXICO CITY - Mexico registered 47,144 cases of coronavirus on Saturday, with the country's death toll rising to 5,045, health authorities said.

Mexico has seen a slightly higher death rate from coronavirus than the global average so far due to the widespread presence of pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity, experts say.

Obama tells 2020 high school graduates they'll have to grow up fast

Former President Barack Obama gave a virtual commencement address to graduating high school seniors across the country Saturday night during a televised event hosted by NBA star LeBron James.

It was part of a special called "Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020" that included appearances by numerous musical stars, celebrities and athletes, including the Jonas Brothers, Megan Rapinoe, Pharrell Williams, Maren Morris and Malala Yousafzai.

The former president expressed pride in the class of 2020, especially because "the world is turned upside down by a global pandemic," he said.

"You’re going to have to grow up faster than some generations," he said.

Read the whole story here.

New Orleans takes first steps toward reopening

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans began taking its first steps Saturday toward loosening two months of restrictions on businesses, restaurants and houses of worship.

The city is restricting buildings to 25% of capacity and requiring restaurants, nail salons and other businesses to only take customers by reservation. Malls and retail stores can reopen, but casinos, video poker, live entertainment and bars are still closed.

Officials are still urging people to stay home as much as possible and requiring people to wear masks in public unless exercising.

The coronavirus struck New Orleans so quickly in March there were worries the pandemic would overwhelm the state health system. Hospitalizations have been going down for nearly a month, but officials warned a spike in cases or deaths could lead to putting restrictions back in place.