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Melania Trump continues the first lady’s tradition of visiting Children’s Hospital over the holidays – despite the pandemic

First ladies are visiting Children’s National Hospital In Washington, D.C., on holidays for decades – and even a global pandemic hasn’t stopped that tradition. But the fourth and final ceremonial visit to Melania Trump as First Lady on Tuesday looked a little different from past seasons.

“Every year I cherish my visit to ChildrensNatl to read a children’s holiday story and meet our dedicated and inspiring healthcare professionals,” Trump tweeted Tuesday-Share event photos from previous years. “This will be my fourth visit to a vacation there and I look forward to spending time again with the many brave children and their families.”

The hospital has modified its event program to help ensure that the visit is as safe as possible amid the pandemic. Associated Press reports.

Trump was still sitting in a chair in front of the enormous, lavishly decorated Christmas tree in the foyer of the facility for its annual read, but the crowd was much smaller than it had been in years past. Instead of reading for a large group of patients, their families, hospital staff, and performers, Trump is seen in a A live video on Facebook posted by the hospital Go out to the tree in front of a bunch of people.

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Two patients, Riley Whitney, 6, and Sophia Martinez, 8, sat in front of the first lady on a red carpet as she read, the Associated Press reported.

Before reading the children’s story, “Oliver the Ornament Meets Marley & Joan and Abbey,” by Tod Zimmerman, Trump said, “It’s great to be here. This is one of my favorite events during vacation.” The story is part of the Eid. “Oliver the decoration“ A series of books that Trump said she started reading three years ago.

She also urged the children to “stay strong and healthy” before the story began.

A hospital spokesperson told CBS News via email that everyone at the event wore masks, as well as practicing social distancing. They added that the space was closed to visitors to the hospital.

The video showed the first lady removing her face covering to read the book, raising concerns that she had violated hospital guidelines.

“All employees, families / caregivers and visitors must wear a mask at all times while at any National Children’s Facility to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” The site is mentioned.

The hospital spokesperson told CBS News that the hospital’s website “does not include a mask policy for people who come to the hospital to give a speech.”

“The first lady has followed our public speaking protocols, which are based on our DC Health Guidelines, Which states that wearing a mask is not required when a person is giving a speech to a broadcast or to the public, provided that no one is within six feet of the speaker, ”the speaker added.

When Trump took off her mask for reading, the hospital said, she was “more than a dozen feet from others in the four-story hallway.” The spokeswoman confirmed that the first lady wore a mask for the rest of her visit, adding that she had not visited any of the patient care areas.

US Politics - Trump - Melania
First Lady Melania Trump reads the Christmas book for sick children at Children’s National Hospital on December 15, 2020, in Washington, DC.

Jacqueline Martin / Paul / AFP via Getty Images

The reading was streamed via the hospital’s closed circuit TV system so that patients could hear from their rooms, according to AP reports. After reading, Trump got involved in calling numbers during the bingo game. The game is played twice a week to give children mental relief from their circumstances, according to the Associated Press.

“Mrs. Trump has our deepest gratitude for joining every First Lady since Bess Truman in bringing the joy of Eid to children who are hospitalized and cannot return home during this special time of the year,” said Dr. Kurt Newman, CEO of the hospital, according to the Associated Press. .

The visit comes as the Coronavirus continues to spread across the country. More than 300,000 Americans have now died from the Coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The country has passed the bleak phase as the first Americans began receiving the newly authorized Pfizer vaccine for the Coronavirus.

The first lady was busy preparing for the holidays, she revealed 2020 White House Christmas Decorations Topic: “Beautiful America” ​​late last month. The curtain has been unveiled Less than two months After classified recordings from June 2018 were broadcast by CNNShe laments the holiday preparations at the White House.

CBS News has not independently verified the recordings.

Earl Warner

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