First Ladies have been attending Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC for decades, and even a global pandemic couldn’t stop the tradition. But Melania Trump’s fourth and final vacation visit as first lady on Tuesday looked a little different than in previous seasons.
“Every year I cherish my visit to @ChildrensNatl to read a vacation story to the kids and meet the dedicated and inspiring healthcare professionals.” Trump tweeted on TuesdayTo share photos of the event from previous years. “This will be my 4th vacation visit and I look forward to spending time with so many brave children and their families again.”
The hospital adjusted the program of events to ensure the visit was as safe as possible during the pandemic, the Associated Press reports.
Trump was still sitting in a chair in front of a massive, richly decorated Christmas tree in the facility’s atrium for their annual reading, but the crowd was much smaller than in years past. Rather than reading to a large group of patients and their families, hospital staff, and performers, Trump was seen on a live Facebook video posted by the hospital that went to the tree in front of just a handful of people.
Two patients, 6-year-old Riley Whitney and 8-year-old Sofia Martinez, sat on a red carpet in front of the first lady during their reading, AP reports.
“It’s wonderful to be here. This is one of my favorite events during the holiday season,” Trump said before reading Todd Zimmerman’s children’s story, “Oliver the Ornament Meets Marley & Joan and Abbey”. The story is part of the “Oliver the Ornament” series of Christmas books that Trump started reading three years ago.
She also urged the children to “stay strong and healthy” before starting the story.
All attendees at the event wore masks and practiced social distancing, a hospital spokesman told newsdos via email. The room is closed to hospital visitors, they added.
The video showed the first lady removing her face covering to read the book, raising concerns that she had violated the hospital’s guidelines.
“All staff, families / carers and visitors must wear a mask at all times in every national children’s facility to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the website says.
The hospital spokesman told newsdos that the hospital’s website “does not provide mask guidelines for people who come to the hospital to give a speech.”
“The First Lady followed our speaker mask protocols, which are based on DC Health guidelines, which state that wearing a mask is not required when a person is giving a speech for a program or audience, provided no one is present within two meters of the speaker, “added the spokesman.
The hospital said that when Trump removed her mask for reading, it was “more than twelve feet from others in our four-story atrium.” The spokeswoman confirmed that the first lady wore a mask for the remainder of her visit, adding that she had not visited any patient care areas.
The reading was broadcast over the hospital’s video surveillance system so patients could listen from their rooms, AP reports. After the reading, Trump took part in calling out numbers during a bingo game. The game is played twice a week, according to the AP, to give the kids a mental break from their conditions.
“Ms. Trump is grateful to have joined every first lady since Bess Truman in bringing the joy of vacation to children who are in the hospital and cannot be home at this special time of year,” said Dr. Kurt Newman, executive director of the hospital, said according to the AP.
The visit comes as the coronavirus rages across the country.According to the Johns Hopkins University, Americans have since died as a result of the coronavirus. The country passed the dire milestone when the first Americans received Pfizer’s newly approved coronavirus vaccine.
The first lady was busy preparing for the holidays and revealing thatand topic: “America the Beautiful” at the end of last month. The unveiling took place After clandestine footage aired on CNN in June 2018, she complained about the White House preparation for the holidays.
newsdos has not independently verified the records.