US first lady Melania Trump speaks at the National PTA Legislative Conference in Alexandria, Va. (Photo: AP)
Melania Trump is having a moment in the midst of a pandemic.
After catching some criticism for not mentioning the coronavirus in a March speech to a parent-teacher group, the first lady has increased her engagement on the issue, mostly through social media since she is staying home like most Americans.
This week, she posted a photo of herself wearing a white face mask — something her husband, President Donald Trump, has said he will not do. It was her way of reinforcing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that everyone cover their nose and mouth in public.
“It is another recommended guideline to keep us safe,” she said in a video released Thursday.
Like everyone else, the first lady is retooling her spring plans because of the virus threat.
Before the pandemic shut down activity in the US, she was preparing for the annual Easter Egg Roll, once set for Monday. She also was planning an April state dinner for Spain’s king and queen. That, too, has been postponed.
Her debut as a fundraiser for her husband’s reelection campaign has also been nixed, as has her annual spring break week with son Barron at the family’s Mar-a-Lago private club in Palm Beach, Florida.
Instead, she’s been burning up the long-distance phone lines checking in with her counterparts in US-allied countries that also are struggling to control the virus, including Spain, Canada, France, Italy and Japan. Canada’s Sophie Grégroire recently recovered from the disease.
The first lady is also using her social media accounts to provide a steady stream of guidance and tips for coping under stay-at-home orders, including reposting CDC guidance about frequent hand-washing, keeping a social distance from others and other suggestions for avoiding infection.
She has thanked medical professionals, urged blood donation, suggested email and FaceTime as alternatives for keeping in touch with friends and family, and shared resources from Scholastic for the millions of K-12 students now learning online at home because their schools are closed.
“I encourage parents to let children know this will not last forever,” the first lady said in one video message.
She also has shared links to sites where astronauts on the International Space Station read story books to children, pointed to where Washington’s cherry blossoms could be seen on a video feed and where people can amuse themselves on virtual tours of the 132-room White House.