Barack Obama blasts US Covid-19 response

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Former US president Barack Obama on Saturday took aim at officials dealing with the coronavirus pandemic in a rare public rebuke of the current administration.

“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,” the former Democratic president said in an address to college graduates.

He did not name his successor Donald Trump or specific U.S. officials in the address, which appeared to be pre-recorded.

“A lot them aren’t even pretending to be in charge,” Obama said during the speech, which capped a two-hour event for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) broadcast on social media.

In a second address to the high school Class of 2020, Obama told graduating students that the pandemic means they would have to grow up faster than some other generations, and urged them to “do what you think is right”.

“Doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy. That’s how little kids think.

“Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grown ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs, still think that way, which is why things are so screwed up,” Obama added, in what appeared to be a dig at Trump and administration officials.

The White House’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has come under the spotlight amid sharp criticism by Democrats, who have bashed Trump’s fairly lax approach through February and lingering testing shortages.

Since leaving the White House in early 2017, Obama has largely refrained from criticising the Trump administration, following a convention among former U.S. presidents.

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