Nov. 23 (UPI) -- First lady Melania Trump welcomed the 2020 White House Christmas tree in a brief event Monday afternoon, continuing the tradition despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump did not wear a mask as she accepted the 18 1/2-foot-high Fraser fir from Dan and Bryan Trees on the North Portico of the White House.
The two coachmen and the horse handler who drove the carriage that delivered the tree wore masks, and the tree farmers did as well initially, but removed them as they posed for a photograph with the first lady.
Monday's event came as the United States added about 143,000 new coronavirus cases on Monday for a total of 12.25 million infections and 256,800 deaths since the start of the pandemic, more than any other nation according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University.
East Wing chief of staff Stephanie Grisham said the White House still will hold celebrations for Christmas and Hanukkah in 2020 "while providing the safest environment possible," including smaller guest lists, mask requirements, encouraged social distancing and hand sanitizer stations.
The National Christmas Tree Association, which has provided the White House's Christmas tree since 1966, said there was no official selection event for the tree this year.
"Instead, the tree was quietly chosen at Dan and Anne Taylor's farm in West Virginia. They are the 2020 NCTA Grand Champion Grower," the organization said.