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

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around the world.
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.

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Pakistan resumes domestic flights, insists on masks and empty seats

Pakistan resumed domestic flights between major cities for the first time in nearly two months on Saturday with the requirement that face masks be worn and vacant seats left between passengers, officials said. International flights will remain suspended till May 31.

Domestic and chartered flight operations will require disinfection of the aircraft prior to boarding, at least one vacant seat between the passengers and compulsory wearing of masks and use of hand sanitizers. No food and beverages will be allowed during domestic flights, the statement added.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said that the country could not afford an indefinite lockdown and the nation would have to learn to live with the pandemic. Pakistan has reported over 38,000 cases of infection from the virus, and 834 deaths.

People visit a market after the government relaxed the weeks-long lockdown that was enforced to curb the spread of the coronavirus, in Lahore, Pakistan last week.K.M. Chaudary / AP

China reopens some schools, revives flights

China reported five new cases of the virus on Sunday, as the commercial hub of Shanghai announced the reopening of some schools and airlines revived flights.

In Shanghai, students retain the option of continuing to follow classes online rather than facing virus testing and social distancing measures at schools. Meanwhile, the number of domestic flights has returned to 60 percent of pre-outbreak levels, exceeding 10,000 per day for the first time since Feb. 1, the country’s civil aviation regulator reported Sunday.

No new deaths have been reported for the past month, although the province of Jilin — which has recently seen a small spike in cases — added one fatality retroactively, bringing China’s death toll to 4,634. 82,947 cases have been recorded since the outbreak was first detected in the city of Wuhan late last year. 78,227 cases are recorded as recovered. 

This comes as the last COVID-19-designated hospital in Wuhan restored normal operation on Saturday after nearly four months of treating the coronavirus, according to a state media report.

Brazil confirms more cases than Italy and Spain

Brazil's confirmed cases of the coronavirus rose on Saturday past those of Spain and Italy — which was once the epicenter of the pandemic — making Brazil's outbreak the fourth largest in the world, according to official figures.

Brazil's Health Ministry registered 14,919 new confirmed cases in the prior 24 hours, taking the total to 233,142, behind only the U.S., Russia and the U.K. Brazil has done just a fraction of the testing seen in those three countries.

Jair Bolsonaro wears a protective mask during the National Flag Raising ceremony in Brasilia, Brazil earlier this week.Andre Borges / Bloomberg via Getty Images

The global distinction is likely to pile pressure on Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, who lost his second health minister in a month on Friday as he defies public health experts and calls for widespread use of unproven drugs.

Bolsonaro has been fiercely critical of the orders by many of Brazil's state governors for strict social isolation and quarantine to combat the spread of the virus, including the closure of schools, shops and restaurants. The president argues that the toll on the economy is becoming unbearable and businesses must be allowed to reopen as soon as possible.

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.