Joe Biden on Wednesday took the oath to become the 46th president of the United States, vowing to bring the nation together in the midst of an ongoing pandemic that has claimed more than 400,000 lives, enormous economic dislocation and civil unrest so serious that the U.S. Capitol steps where he took his oath were surrounded not by cheering crowds, but by tens of thousands of armed police and National Guard troops.
In his inaugural address, given outside despite concerns for his physical security, Biden emphasized unity, the driving theme of his campaign. “My whole soul is in this, bringing America together, uniting our nation,” he said. “And I ask every American to join me in this cause.”
On health care, Biden made it clear that combating the covid-19 pandemic will be his top priority. “We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation,” he said. “We will get through this together.”
Among Biden’s first official actions Wednesday afternoon were several covid-related executive orders. As promised, Biden is requiring masks and physical distancing in federal buildings and on other federal properties, and by federal workers and contractors. He also announced the U.S. will renew its membership with the World Health Organization, which former President Donald Trump was in the process of leaving. And he will re-establish the pandemic preparedness office in the National Security Council, which the Trump administration had dissolved.
Last week, Biden unveiled a covid plan that also includes using the Defense Production Act to speed the manufacture