Ivanka Trump urges protesters to socially distance, wear masks

Ivanka Trump urges protesters to socially distance, wear masks
© Greg Nash

Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpTrump: food chain 'almost working perfectly again' Lilly Wachowski claps back at Ivanka Trump and Elon Musk's 'red pill' exchange Trump says he gave officials 'option' to wear masks at Rose Garden event MORE on Wednesday defended the rights of protesters to gather in defiance of stay-at-home measures imposed by some states to fight the coronavirus pandemic, but encouraged demonstrators to practice social distancing and wear masks.

"Peaceful protest & freedom of assembly are beautiful American traditions that should always be protected," the president's oldest daughter and senior adviser tweeted.

"If you choose to exercise your 1st Amendment rights, please practice social distancing & wear a face covering," she added. "We can protect our rights & our health at the same time."

Trump weighed in as protests have taken place in recent days across the country in opposition to stay-at-home orders issued by many governors. 

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The size of the protests have varied from state to state. Thousands of people turned out in Lansing for last week’s protests in Michigan, but most gatherings have numbered in the hundreds. A planned demonstration in Maryland earlier this week only drew a few attendees.

Photos and video from the gatherings show people packed close together with many not wearing masks. The Trump administration has recommended wearing masks to help prevent asymptomatic spread of the virus.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Flynn transcripts reveal plenty except crime or collusion 50 people arrested in Minneapolis as hundreds more National Guard troops deployed Missouri state lawmaker sparks backlash by tweeting 'looters deserve to be shot' MORE has repeatedly offered his approval of the protests, and some of those demonstrating have turned up wearing Trump apparel or waving Trump flags. The president has specifically targeted states with Democratic governors, sending a tweet last week that called to "liberate" Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia.

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The president's backing of the protesters threatens to undermine his own White House social distancing guidelines, which call for no gatherings of more than 10 people and for individuals to maintain six feet of distance.

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Defense: Trump extends deployment of National Guard troops to aid with coronavirus response | Pentagon considers reducing quarantine to 10 days | Lawmakers push for removal of Nazi headstones from VA cemeteries Don't move the COVID-19 goalpost Overnight Health Care: Sewage testing gives clues of coronavirus | White House says Trump would take hydroxychloroquine again | Trump marks 'very sad milestone' of 100K virus deaths MORE, the top infectious diseases expert on the White House coronavirus task force, warned Monday that the demonstrations could lead to a new rise in coronavirus infections, making it more difficult to lift the very restrictions the protesters are speaking out against.

"So as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it’s going to backfire. That’s the problem," he said.