• President Joe Biden's first full day in office has focused on tackling Covid-19.
• Biden presented a number of his initiatives in a briefing after signing a wave of executive orders yesterday.
• Biden's press secretary Jen Psaki and Dr Anthony Fauci have also addressed reporter's questions. Fauci said the move from the Trump to the Biden administration was "somewhat of a liberating feeling".
• Protesters hit parts of US just hours after Biden was sworn in as the new president.
With a burst of executive orders, President Joe Biden served notice today that the nation's Covid-19 response is under new management and he's demanding progress to reduce infections and lift the siege Americans have endured for nearly a year.
The 10 orders signed by Biden are aimed at jump starting his national Covid-19 strategy to increase vaccinations and testing, lay the groundwork for reopening schools and businesses, and immediately increase the use of masks — including a requirement that Americans mask up for travel.
One directive calls for a addressing health care inequities in minority communities hard hit by the virus. "We didn't get into this mess overnight, and it will take months to turn this around," Biden said. "Despite the best intentions we're going to face setbacks." But he declared: "To a nation waiting for action, let me be clear on this point: Help is on the way."
Biden acknowledged the urgency of the mission in his inaugural address. "We are entering what may well be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus," he said before asking Americans to join him in a moment of silence in memory of the more than 400,000 people in the US who have died from Covid-19.
Biden's top medical adviser on Covid-19, Dr Anthony Fauci, also announced renewed US support for the World Health Organsation after the Trump administration had pulled out of the global body. Fauci said that the US will join the UN health agency's efforts to bring vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to people in need, whether in rich or poor countries and will resume full funding and staffing support for WHO.
Fauci also said that he now felt able to speak truthfully about the coronavirus situation in the country. "The idea that you can get up here and you can talk about what you know, what evidence, what the science is, and know that's it – let the science speak. It is somewhat of a liberating feeling," Fauci said.
The US mask order for travel being implemented by Biden will apply to airports and planes, ships, intercity buses, trains and public transportation. Biden has already mandated masks on federal property. The President asked Americans to mask up for the next 99 days, saying "it's a patiotic act". If masks were widespread from now until April, Biden said, it could save 50,000 lives.
Travellers from abroad must now furnish a negative Covid-19 test before departing for the US and quarantine upon arrival. "We're in a national emergency," Biden said, "it's time we treated it like one".
"Our national strategy is comprehensive, it's based on science, not politics, it's based on truth, not denial," Biden said.
The President is also seeking to expand testing and vaccine availability, with the goal of 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office. Some independent experts say the administration should be setting a higher bar for itself.
During flu season, the US is able to vaccinate about 3 million people a day, said Dr Christopher Murray. "Given the number of people dying from Covid, we could and should do more — like what we're able to do on seasonal flu," he said.
Demonstrators have taken to the streets in Seattle, Washington and Boston, Massachusetts however the biggest protest appeared to occur in Portland, Oregon.
Protesters dressed as far-left, antifa demonstrators smashed windows at the Democratic Party of Oregon building in northeast Portland, hours after Biden was swore in.
Around 200 protesters wandered through the city, grafitting buildings with "F*** Biden" and holding signs that read "We are ungovernable" and "A new world from the ashes". Another banner read "We don't want Biden — we want revenge". The group was calling for "revenge for police murders, for imperialist wars and fascist massacres".
The protesters were later met by a large group of police officers, who arrested eight people in connection to the demonstration.
Portland Police said the group of eight had been hit with an array of charges including criminal mischief, possession of a destructive device, rioting and reckless burning.
Police also allegedly seized batons, pepper spray, Molotov cocktails, knives and a crowbar from those they arrested.
Many of the protesters managed to escape police after damaging the Democrat headquarters.
"This is not the first time our building has been vandalised during the past year — none of the prior incidents have deterred us from our important work to elect Democrats up and down the ballot, and this one will be no different," the Democratic Party of Oregon said in a statement.
Handymen were called in to repair the damage not long after its windows were smashed.
After a brief period of calm in Portland, protesters took to the streets again when night fell.
Portland Police said in a statement that they and federal authorities were forced to disperse a group of around 150 protesters when they began to graffiti the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices just after 9pm.
"A crowd of about 150 people walked from Elizabeth Caruthers Park to the ICE offices ... People in the crowd carried shields, umbrellas, ASP and PR-24 batons and picked up rocks on their way. Many people wore gas masks and helmets. Within a few minutes of arriving people began applying graffiti to the ICE building," police said.
"At about 9.45pm federal officers emerged on the ICE property to move the crowd away. Federal officers dispersed to the north then took up a position about half a block away.
"Portland Police circulated through the neighbourhood during the next hour to find specific people in the crowd for whom there was probable cause to arrest and made arrests as they identified and located suspects.
"During that time the crowd dissipated a little at time. Eventually there were only a few dozen people milling about as officers finished making their last arrest. Portland Police did not deploy any munitions or CS gas."
Large protests also kicked off in Seattle, where dozens of demonstrators dressed in black marched in the streets.
A handful of antifa protesters were arrested in the Washington city, however police kept a distance to ensure things stayed peaceful.
Videojournalist Brendan Gutenschwager, who regularly covers rallies across the US, captured the momenta protester was arrested.
American flags were burnt in the street and a number of businesses were broken into, but police have since managed to disperse the protesters.
"F*** Trump, f*** Biden too, they don't give a f*** about you," the protesters chanted.
And in Boston, a small group of protesters stopped traffic as part of their "No honeymoon for Biden" demonstration.
"On Inauguration Day a coalition of organisations are coming together to re-take the initiative for a progressive agenda with a rally on the Boston Common at 4pm," an event page for the protest said.
"Security will be a priority as everyone will be asked to wear masks and practice physical distancing.
"A top priority will be to demand economic security for working people without wasting billions on corporate welfare.
"A real Green New Deal is necessary to create millions of good new jobs, recover the economy, and set us on a path for climate stability by 2030. The suffering and death caused by the coronavirus must translate into the political will to replace the current patchwork of private health insurance with universal health care.
"We also need real solutions to the other pandemic of police brutality with impunity that has burdened communities of colour for generations."
- additional reporting: News Corp Australia