After two months of tumult, the nation experienced a peaceful transition of power Wedneday with the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Biden went right to work, signing a flurry of executive orders aimed at reigning in the coronavirus pandemic and reinstating the nation's commitment to fighting climate change. The theme of his speech was that democracy had prevailed. Standing in the spot where two weeks prior an angry mob breached the Capitol in a deadly insurrection, he pleaded for unity.
Due to the pandemic, the in-person crowd was small. Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Garth Brooks sang to just a handful in the audience. And each of their performances was eclipsed by a 22-year-old former youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman.
President Biden signed 17 executive orders, actions, and proclamations just hours after being sworn into office.
Several of those dealt with the coronavirus pandemic, making it a top priority for the administration.
President Biden then yesterday further detailed his strategy to deal with the virus---on the one year anniversary of the first diagnosed case in the United States. He signed orders requiring masks on airplanes, trains, buses, and airports. Combined with his Inauguration Day signing of a mask mandate on federal property, it is as close to having a national mask requirement as we have witnessed to date in this pandemic.
The inauguration also created history when Senator Kamala Harris of California took the oath as vice president. She is the first woman of color elected to national office.
The scenes from the inauguration provided a sharp contrast to the angry and violent Trump rioters who breached the Capitol on January 6 in a failed effort to derail Democracy. The debris from that mob has been swept away but aftershocks reverberate--especially in the Midwest. The Southern Poverty Law Center says this region is now a quote "hotbed" for extremist groups. Investigations into the insurrection at the Capitol are still ongoing. A large number, one in five, according to an NPR news analysis, had served in the military.
While the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic gets new leadership, the effort continues at the state and local levels to get people vaccinated as soon as possible. Most of the state's counties remain in the red level on Ohio's color-coded public health alert map that tracks the spread of the virus. The state's overnight--10 p.m. to 5 a.m.--curfew had been set to expire this weekend. But the governor says he cannot lift it because the number of virus cases remains too high.
Taylor Haggerty, reporter, Ideastream
Anna Huntsman, health reporter, Ideastream
Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau chief, Ohio Public Radio/TV