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After historic Inauguration Day, President Biden launches Covid-19 response

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton join Biden in call for national unity.
Image: Inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States
Fireworks burst over the Washington Monument during the "Celebrating America" event after the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on Wednesday.Tom Brenner / Reuters

Good morning, NBC News readers.

After an Inauguration Day like no other, the newly sworn in Biden administration is getting down to business.

Here is what we're watching this Thursday morning.

Biden's Day 2 agenda: Tackle Covid-19

On his second day in office, President Joe Biden will sign 10 executive orders to ramp up Covid-19 vaccinations, expand testing and reopen schools as he outlines a detailed plan to tackle the pandemic.

Biden has set an ambitious goal of giving 100 million shots in 100 days — ramping up the pace from the nearly 17 million shots the Trump administration recorded in a little over a month.

Administration officials think they have the supply and resources to meet the goal, but they said they will need funding from Congress to expand vaccinations to the wider population, increase testing and help schools reopen.

Biden hit the ground running on Wednesday, issuing more than a dozen executive orders and memorandums in his first hours in office, undoing many of the hallmarks of former President Donald Trump's tenure and beginning to make his own mark on how the U.S. will respond to its multiple crises.

Promising "truth and transparency," the new White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration will return to daily press briefings as well as regular briefings with health officials on the coronavirus pandemic.

Asked by NBC News' White House correspondent Peter Alexander how the new administration planned to combat disinformation, Psaki said one way was to share "accurate information and truth and data. And sharing information even when it is hard to hear."

To that end, a major theme of Biden's inauguration was a call for national unity. But Biden is going to have to convince GOP leaders to come along for the ride.

And Republicans may have a different idea of what "unity" means, NBC News' national political reporter Sahil Kapur writes.

An inauguration like no other

Crowds, gone. Masks, on. The outgoing president absent for the first time in over 150 years. The parade route, lined with soldiers instead of spectators.

Biden's inauguration was certainly like no other.

But it happened, nonetheless, which may be the only thing that matters at a moment when America’s democratic institutions have been tested, NBC News' Alex Seitz-Wald writes.

"Democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile," the new president said at the start of his inaugural address. "And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed."

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THINK about it

Biden's call for unity is different than all the others — and could actually work, John Carlson, associate director of religious studies at Arizona State University, writes in an opinion piece.

Listen up

In the latest episode of our Into America podcast, host Trymaine Lee sits down with Erroll Southers, a former federal agent and an expert in homegrown extremism, about the steps Biden needs to take to tackle white extremism.


Mask up, America, is the message from Biden. Could 100 days of mask-wearing change the course of the pandemic in the U.S.? Health experts say, yes.


Customize your work from home station with one of these top-rated lap desks that cost $40 or less.

One inspiring thing

Amanda Gorman all but stole the show on Inauguration Day as she performed her original poem, "The Hill We Climb."

At 22 years old, the youngest inaugural poet ever captivated the nation with her poetry and her poise.

We'll leave you with her sage words this morning.

"The new dawn blooms as we free it.

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it."

Watch Amanda Gorman recite her poem at Biden's inauguration

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Thanks, Petra