First Lady Melania Trump hasn’t let the coronavirus pandemic stop her from the decades-old tradition of visiting Children’s National Hospital during the holiday season. The visits just look a little different this year. The hospital said they adjusted the event program to be safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Associated Press reported.
The First Lady sat in a chair in front of the hospital’s Christmas tree inside their atrium to do her annual book reading, but the crowd was much smaller than years before. This year, there were a handful of people, when there is usually staff, families and patients present. Two patients, 6-year-old Riley Whitney and 8-year-old Sofia Martinez, sat in from of Trump as she read to them, the AP reported.
The book reading was broadcast on the hospital’s TV for patients so they could enjoy it from their rooms.
"Every year I cherish my visit to @ChildrensNatl to read a holiday story to the children & meet with the dedicated & inspiring healthcare professionals,” Trump wrote Tuesday on Twitter before the visit. ”This will be my 4th holiday visit there & I look forward to spending time again with so many brave children & their families.”
Masks were required for the visit and social distancing rules were enforced, CBS News reported. In the video posted to Facebook, Trump was seen removing her face mask to read and people questioned whether she violated the hospital’s policy, but the hospital has said that their policy doesn’t include people who “come to the hospital” to give a speech as long as no one is within six feet of them, CBS News reported. Trump reportedly wore her mask the rest of her visit.
"Mrs. Trump has our deep gratitude for joining every first lady since Bess Truman in bringing holiday cheer to children who are hospitalized and can't be home during this special time of the year," said Dr. Kurt Newman, chief executive officer of the hospital, according to the AP.