WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President elect Joe Biden is preparing to be sworn into office Jan. 20 and plans are underway to make sure that that ceremony takes place safely during the pandemic.
It’s perhaps the most visible symbol of American democracy, the presidential inauguration. However, those who wish to witness the transition of power up close this year may not be able to.
“The entire planning process is going to be different, you know they’re going to have to do what we call de-densify,” said Amanda Castel, Epidemiology Prof. George Washington University.
She says organizers must find a way to draw down the usual crowds, historically in the hundreds of thousands or risk another COVID super spreader event.
“This is something that happens in Washington, D.C. but we at this point during the pandemic we need to make sure that we work with the local health departments,” said Castel.
Castel says that means extra medical teams and stand up COVID-19 testing sites.
“I can imagine that Joe could place either chairs or polls or some kind of designation where people are allowed to stand and everyone is 6 feet apart,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat from New York.
She says the incoming Biden administration should even consider a virtual inauguration where guests or speakers would take part remotely and unprecedented idea.
“He really has to take COVID seriously and in January we’re just going to be that far deep into the resurgence that’s already started,” said Gillibrand.
Though not everyone on Capitol Hill likes that idea of a virtual inauguration.
“They should plan on an inauguration for whoever gets inaugurated on inauguration day,” said Senator Ron Johnson, Republican from Wisconsin.
Sen. Johnson does agree that a large inauguration crowd isn’t ideal but he says that problem we’ll fix itself.
“Let’s face it with COVID it is probably going to be certainly reduced size crowd so it should be easier to plan for,” said Johnson.
While the inauguration is a federal event, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and her public health team we’ll be left to deal with any fallout should the ceremony become a COVID risk.