And in more dramatic corners of the capital, other lawmakers celebrated the new leadership.
Senator Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican and minority leader, quoted Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told reporters when he addressed her without a mask for the first time in months: “Free at last.”
On the street in Charleston, Dr. Biden, accompanied by West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin III, helps motivate the public. Once down, Mr. Manchin immediately got to work talking to a number of local news cameras.
“You’ve all seen the latest from the C.D.C.? That means there are no masks inside or out,” Manchin told a group of reporters.
“What does this mean for the people of West Virginia?” asked a reporter.
“It means getting vaccinated!” Mr. Manchin said. “We feel free.”
It didn’t hurt her cause that state-raised actress Jennifer Garner showed up by her side for her visit. Mrs. Garner, who had come to the Charleston airport wearing a mask, quickly undressed it when she saw the first lady descend the aircraft steps.
When she and Dr. Biden, Mr. Manchin and his wife Gayle attended high school, Ms. Garner smiled at a group of high school students with starry, masked eyes.
“Somehow I can’t believe that I’m standing here without a mask when I look at maskless faces,” Ms. Garner said to a group in the school’s high school.
All around them people started removing masks from their faces and their smiles were visible again.