The inauguration of Joe Biden

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 12:42 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021
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11:08 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Harris will be sworn in by the country’s first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor

From CNN’s Maureen Chowdhury

Getty Images
Getty Images

Kamala Harris will make history as the first woman, the first woman of color, the first Black person and the first South Asian to be Vice President.

In addition, Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Justice in the court’s history.

Sotomayor was nominated to the Supreme Court by former President Barack Obama in 2009. Like Harris, Sotomayor broke barriers throughout her career. She is the third female justice in US Supreme Court history, and she was the first Hispanic person to be appointed to the federal bench in New York.

Harris honored Sotomayor in 2019 during Hispanic Heritage Month with the following tweet:

11:11 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Vice President Mike Pence was just announced

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence arrives at the inauguration ceremony.

President Trump is not there. He is the first outgoing president to skip his replacement's inauguration in more than 150 years.

Watch moment:

12:32 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Meanwhile, Trump just landed in Florida

President Trump and the first lady have just landed in Florida. 

Trump had a short farewell ceremony at Joint Base Andrews earlier this morning. In brief, unscripted remarks, he promised to "always fight" and wished the incoming Biden administration "great luck."

“You are amazing people. This is a great, great country. It is my greatest honor and privilege to have been your President,” Trump said to a crowd of his family and staff.  

Trump will be in Florida when President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are sworn in at noon, at which point he will no longer be president.

10:59 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Pence also left a note for Harris

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Vice President Mike Pence left a note for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. This was expected to happen.

Harris and Pence spoke on the phone last week.

President Trump also wrote a note for President-elect Joe Biden. A source described it as a “personal note” that continues the theme he had in his farewell address, praying for the success of the country and the new administration to care for the country.

11:07 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

SCOTUS judges have arrived at the swearing-in ceremony

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Supreme Court justices were just introduced at the inauguration ceremony at the US Capitol.

Chief Justice John Roberts will swear in Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. Justice Sonia Sotomayor will swear in Kamala Harris as Vice President.

Watch moment:

11:04 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Former Presidents Obama, Clinton and Bush have arrived

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton were just introduced at the inauguration ceremony at the US Capitol.

Moments later, Former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush were also announced.

Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama are also at the Capitol for the event.

Former President Jimmy Carter, the oldest living former President, is not expected to attend today's ceremony.

President Trump left the White House earlier this morning and will also not attend Biden's inauguration.

Watch moment:

10:51 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Joe Biden tweets a message to his wife as they arrive at the Capitol

Moments after arriving at the US Capitol for the inauguration, Joe Biden's account sent a tweet with a message to his wife, soon-to-be first lady Jill Biden.

The tweet said: "I love you, Jilly, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have you with me on the journey ahead." It included a short video of the Bidens holding hands as they arrived for the ceremony.

10:56 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Lawmakers are starting to take their seats ahead of the inauguration

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Image
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Image

Senate leaders were just announced at the US Capitol, and senators then took their seats ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden.

A band is playing as other lawmakers and VIPs make their way to their seats at the Capitol. Usually, crowds of supporters would be gathered on the National Mall, but today — due to coronavirus and security concerns — the Mall is filled with American flags instead.

Biden is set to take the oath of office at noon ET, officially becoming the 46th president of the US.

10:42 a.m. ET, January 20, 2021

How this year's inauguration adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic

From CNN’s Ethan Cohen, Liz Stark and Adam Levy

Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg/Getty Images

One of the biggest challenges facing organizers of this year’s inauguration was how to conduct the ceremony safely amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced in mid-December that “vigorous health and safety protocols” will be implemented to prevent the spread of the virus. Traditional events will be “reimagined,” like the virtual inaugural parade, or canceled altogether, like the Capitol Hill luncheon. The inaugural committee also urged the public to refrain from traveling to Washington, DC for the ceremony and instead participate in inaugural activities from home

Here are some additional ways the inauguration changed due to the coronavirus pandemic:

Limited attendance: 

  • In-person attendance will be drastically cut back this year compared to previous inaugurations, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) announced in mid-December.
  • Normally, 200,000 tickets would be distributed for official ceremonies at the US Capitol, but this year attendance will be limited. For example, members of Congress will only receive a ticket for themselves and one guest, and the National Mall will be closed to the public. 

Health and safety protocols: 

  • Inaugural events that are taking place in person will incorporate public health measures to protect participants from the virus.
  • For example, the official swearing-in ceremony will include “vigorous health and safety protocols to protect public health, including face-coverings, social distancing, and more,” according to the inaugural committee’s website.

“Reimagined” or canceled events: 

  • A massive public art display, called the “Field of Flags,” has been set up on the National Mall, with approximately 191,500 U.S. flags and 56 pillars of light to represent Americans who can’t attend the inauguration in person.
  • The traditional inaugural parade will be virtual this year due to the pandemic, the PIC announced. The “reimagined parade” will feature televised performances from communities in all 56 states and territories, as well as celebrity and guest appearances.
  • In lieu of in-person celebrations, the Biden team will produce a 90-minute special program, titled “Celebrating America,” on the evening of his inauguration. Biden and Harris are expected to give remarks during the program, which will also highlight frontline workers, teachers and health care workers and feature musical performances. 
  • The Capitol Hill luncheon was canceled this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the JCCIC announced in late December, saying the decision was made in consultation with the PIC. In past inaugurations, the luncheon on Capitol Hill traditionally included congressional leaders and invited guests and often featured foods from the home states of the new president and vice president.