If you’ve been anywhere near a doctor’s office, hospital or medical building since the coronavirus pandemic began, you know that they are one of the locations where it’s absolutely crucial you follow the guidelines for protecting yourself and others from the virus. (And, generally, they are some of the places on highest alert to keep everyone safe and compliant with those rules.) However, there was some concern during a trip to the Children’s National Hospital on Tuesday, First Lady Melania Trump reportedly removed her face mask at the hospital, going against the their stated policy, while making her annual visit to read to patients.
According to CNN, Trump wore her mask upon arrival to the hospital, but removed it when she took her seat in front of a tree where she would be reading. While social distancing guidelines were observed (with other individuals at the scaled-back event reportedly 12 feet away from the FLOTUS at all times), the mask stayed off while she read.
— Children’s National Hospital 🏥 (@ChildrensNatl) December 15, 2020
Later, the White House released a readout defending the FLOTUS’ time seen without her mask, adding that it “followed the hospital’s mask protocols for public speakers, based on the District of Columbia health guidance, that wearing a mask is not required when a person is giving a speech for broadcast or an audience, provided no one is within six feet of the speaker. Throughout the holiday program, the First Lady was more than twelve feet away from others in the four-story atrium. Today’s visit, broadcast to 325 inpatient hospital rooms, followed these guidelines.”
In a statement to CNN, Children’s National spokeswoman Diana Troese said, per DC health regulations (rather than the hospital’s policy): “Our number one priority at Children’s National Hospital is the safety of our patients, families and employees. Under DC Health regulations, wearing a mask is not required when a person is giving a speech for broadcast or an audience, provided no one is within six feet of the speaker. In the case of today’s visit which was broadcast to our 325 patients, while the First Lady did remove her mask while she read a story, she was more than 12 feet away from others in our large atrium. All other people in that space were wearing masks. The remainder of her visit, she wore a mask.”
While this case seems to be one that’s less of a deep concern, the Trump family’s fraught and often controversial relationship with wearing masks hasn’t been far from our minds.
Melania previously tested positive for the virus alongside her husband and a number of other White House employees in October. “I was very fortunate as my diagnosis came with minimal symptoms, though they hit me all at once and it seemed to be a roller coaster of symptoms in the days after,” she wrote in a release about her experience. “I experienced body aches, a cough and headaches, and felt extremely tired most of the time.”
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