Extraordinary inauguration in extraordinary times

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PRESIDENT-elect Joe Biden will take his oath of office as the 46th President of the United States today at noon (January 20, 2021, US time) at the US Capitol in Washington, DC.

Likewise, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will take her oath as the country’s vice president.

Biden will go on record as the oldest US president to be sworn into office at 78 years old and the second Catholic after former president John F. Kennedy. He is also the 15th former VP to be elected president. Administering his oath of office will be US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

Harris also has her share of “firsts,” being the first woman, the first African-American and first Asian-American elected vice president. Her oath of office will be recited in front of US Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who will become the first woman to administer the inaugural oath of office twice.

It will be an extraordinary moment that will take place in extraordinary times since the country is still jarred by an ongoing pandemic, and various political, economic, public health and security issues. Public activities related to presidential inaugural events were already restricted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Security was made like a tight leash, where access to the area will be highly restricted, perhaps to avoid any protests that may erupt during the event.

Health protocols such as strict wearing of face masks and other protective gear, temperature checks, including physical distancing, are already in place. Guests who will attend the event and witness the proceedings live will be limited to members of the US Congress and one guest of their choice, a format that resembles a State of the Nation address.

The public is encouraged to watch the event live in the comfort of their homes instead, again because of the pandemic. The Presidential Inaugural Committee has already stated that they will maintain inaugural traditions but will be done differently in consideration of the ongoing public health and safety situation.

Outgoing US President Donald Trump has already said that he will not attend the inauguration, a first since former president Andrew Johnson did it in 1869 during former president Ulysses Grant’s swearing into office.

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