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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Australia plans pop-up carparks to prevent rush hour virus crush

SYDNEY - Australian officials planned to open pop-up parking lots and extra bicycle lanes in Sydney and other cities as the country's most populous state began its first full week on Monday of loosened lockdown measures.

New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging people to avoid peak-hour trains and buses as they return to work to ensure that social distancing between commuters is maintained.

Australia's states and territories are beginning to allow more public activity under a three-step government plan after two months of shutdowns that officials have credited with keeping the country's exposure to the pandemic relatively low.

Australia plans pop-up carparks to prevent rush hour virus crush

SYDNEY — Australian officials planned to open pop-up parking lots and extra bicycle lanes in Sydney and other cities as the country's most populous state began its first full week on Monday of loosened lockdown measures.

New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging people to avoid peak-hour trains and buses as they return to work to ensure that social distancing between commuters is maintained.

Australia's states and territories are beginning to allow more public activity under a three-step government plan after two months of shutdowns that officials have credited with keeping the country's exposure to the pandemic relatively low.

Canadian air force officer dies after jet crashes during tribute

A member of the Royal Canadian Air Force killed after a jet crashed into a British Columbia home during a celebration for front-line workers in the coronavirus pandemic was identified Sunday by authorities.

Capt. Jennifer Casey was a public affairs officer who joined the elite Snowbirds squadron in 2018, the air force said. Another team member, Capt. Richard MacDougall, was seriously injured.

The flight was part of Operation Inspiration, a nationwide mission aimed at saluting first responders and other essential workers. The Snowbirds are a military aerobatics squadron based in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Read the full story.

Immigration agency asks for emergency funds, will raise fees

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government agency that processes citizenship applications and work visas is running out of money because of the COVID-19 pandemic and says it needs to raise its fees and receive emergency funding from Congress to stay afloat.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is typically funded through the fees it charges people seeking to live or work in the country. But the agency said Sunday that it has seen a dramatic decrease in applications as a result of the pandemic.

Much of the U.S. immigration system has ground to a halt. Nearly all visa processing by the State Department is suspended and travel to the U.S. has been restricted. In April, President Donald Trump announced a 60-day pause on the issuance of green cards to limit competition for jobs in a U.S. economy wrecked by the coronavirus.

USCIS said in a statement that it expects its revenue will drop by about 61% through the end of the year.

Economy won't recover 'until people feel confident that they are safe,' says Fed Chairman Powell

The U.S. economy won't recover "until people feel confident that they are safe," Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Sunday, in an interview with CBS News's "60 Minutes." 

“The sooner we get the virus under control, the sooner businesses can reopen,” he said. 

While Powell anticipates that economic conditions could improve in the second half of the year without a vaccine, he believes that "for the economy to fully recover, people will have to be fully confident, and that may have to await the arrival of a vaccine.”

Unemployment is likely to peak between 20 and 25 percent, and GDP is likely to shrink by more than 20 percent, Powell said.

The central bank head also admitted he is worried about what could happen to the economy if the pandemic were to worsen again. 

“The big thing we have to avoid during that period is a second wave of the virus,” Chair Powell told CBS. “That would be very damaging, to have to reintroduce the measures and slow the economy down again. That would be quite damaging to the economy and also to public confidence.”

Hollywood scrambles to meet demand for new shows, movies

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Major television networks started trotting out their fall lineups this month in atypical fashion. Conspicuously missing from the announcements are the star-studded parties at big venues like Radio City Music Hall, events that had come to define the showcase season in a pre-coronavirus world.

Instead, advertisers this year will be treated to significantly less fanfare as Disney, ABC, NBC and CBS hold virtual conferences to announce their fall shows. At first glance, the lineups that have been announced appear full, with both renewed and new series slated to air later this year.

Whether those materialize, however, remains a big question as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ground productions in Los Angeles and New York, both of which have extended their stay-at-home orders.

Read the full story.

Canadian Air Force jet celebrating front-line workers crashes into home

A Canadian air force jet celebrating front-line workers in the coronavirus pandemic crashed into a British Columbia home on Sunday, authorities and witnesses said.

The Royal Canadian Air Force said in a statement that the incident occurred in Kamloops, northeast of Vancouver. It wasn’t immediately clear if anyone was injured or killed in the crash or what caused it.

The flight was part of “Operation Inspiration,” a nationwide mission aimed at saluting first responders and other essential workers. The Snowbirds are a military acrobatics squadron based in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Read the full story.

Number of coronavirus deaths in U.S. surpasses 90,000

The number of people in the United States who have died from the coronavirus rose to 90,135 on Sunday, according to an NBC News tally.

Nearly 1.5 million people have contracted the virus, the count shows.

The United States has more recorded more confirmed cases and deaths than any other country.

Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday that 12 different forecasting models used by the agency predicted the number of deaths in the United States will surpass 100,000 by June 1.

Doctors couldn't help these COVID-19 patients with their endless symptoms. So they turned to one another.

Jennifer English was sick, scared and confused. For two weeks, the Oregon City, Oregon, single mother had had no sense of taste, a fever that reached 102.5 degrees and an uncomfortable tightness in her chest.

English, 46, who helps manage a restaurant and bar, suspected she had the coronavirus and worried her health might worsen, leaving her incapable of caring for her son. But in phone calls and virtual doctor appointments, physicians downplayed her concerns.

When she then started experiencing dizziness so overpowering that it caused her to collapse on her bathroom floor in mid-April, English went to an emergency room and demanded a test for COVID-19. An ER physician gave her the test, but told her she had likely had a panic attack — even though English has no history of anxiety — and sent her home.

Read the whole story here.