The first woman reached the hospital’s main atrium wearing a mask. When she took her seat in front of the tree, she took off her mask. Although she practiced social distance, the hospital approach specifically required all visitors to wear the mask.
It reads, “Wear a mask when entering any child’s national building, as ordered by local authorities. This includes all public spaces such as the hall and cafeteria” and “Wear a mask at all times when you are around other people”.
The First Lady’s Office did not immediately respond to a request from CNN asking why she had removed her mask and whether she had special permission to do so.
However, the White House readout of the event, which was released later on Tuesday, stated: “Due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, the event is limited to individual participants and all guests must wear face masks and adhere to social distance. Hospital mask for public speakers based on District of Columbia health guidance. Visiting protocols, no need to wear a mask when a person is broadcasting or speaking for the audience, unless no one is within six feet of the speaker.The entire Holiday program, the first lady is more than twelve feet away from the others in the four-story atrium. , Followed these guidelines. “
Diana Trois, National Representative for Children, Washington, DC, cited health regulations – but not the hospital’s own policy – in response to a request for comment from CNN.
“The safety of our patients, families and employees is our number one priority at Children’s National Hospital. According to DC Health regulations, a person is not required to wear a mask when transmitting or speaking for an audience, no one under the age of six is the speaker’s feet,” she said.
“In the case of today’s visit to our 325 patients, the first lady took off her mask while reading a story. She was more than 12 feet away from the others in our large atrium. Everyone else in the place was wearing masks. The rest of her visit, she was wearing a mask.” Said Trois.
But health experts say it is not yet clear how long antibodies will provide protection and recommend wearing a mask.
“Even though the president himself is infected and he has protective antibodies, we do not know how long that protection will last,” Dr Anthony Fauzi told ABC News on Tuesday.
The event has been scaled significantly from previous visits. Most of the kids watched the reading from the live stream, but Trump came with 6-year-old Riley Whitney and 8-year-old Sophia Martinez, sitting on the floor in front of her as she read.
Other attendees, including some key members of the hospital leadership, wore masks, some wearing protective face or eye shields.
“It’s so wonderful to be here. It’s one of my favorite events during the holidays and I’m so excited and looking forward to reading a book,” she said when she arrived.
“I’m thinking of all of you. Be strong and nice and have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,” she said before reading the children’s book, “Oliver Jewelry Marley & Joanne & Abbey.”
Trump unmasked Maria Carrie when she exited “All I Want for Christmas Is You”.
Later Tuesday, she took part in a holiday themed bingo game. She calls numbers into a microphone at a podium in a studio and practices social distance again, but keeps her mask on all the time.
The story was updated with comments from the White House readout.
Allie Malloy of CNN contributed to this report.