Melania Trump to star in U.S. coronavirus awareness ads

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[March 19, 2020]   By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - First lady Melania Trump will urge Americans to wash their hands and keep their distance from one another to fight coronavirus in a new TV ad campaign produced with major U.S. broadcast networks, the White House said on Wednesday.

ABC, CBS, NBC and other networks will air the public service announcements, which will also include other Trump administration officials and "communicate the most important ways Americans can protect themselves and those most at risk," the White House said in a statement.

Nickleodon will create a separate campaign for children.

The air time will be donated by media networks, the White House said.

Trump, a former fashion model, has avoided the public arena more than many first ladies. Her signature initiative has been a campaign called Be Best, which focuses on the safety and well-being of children.

All the ads will direct audiences to coronavirus.gov, a website containing the latest information about the outbreak.

The announcement comes as the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 rose to at least 146, with the number of infections closing in on 8,000 as millions of Americans stayed home instead going to work or school and President Donald Trump said hospital ships would be deployed to make up for an anticipated shortage of hospital beds.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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