First Lady Melania Trump made a point to wish son Barron a happy 14th birthday on social media Friday as the nation's focus narrows on efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus

By Sean Neumann
March 20, 2020 01:36 PM

First Lady Melania Trump made a point to wish son Barron Trump a happy 14th birthday on social media Friday morning as the nation’s focus narrows on efforts to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus that became a pandemic last week.

“I’ve spoken actually with my son,” President Donald Trump said Monday when asked what he had told his family and his youngest son about the respiratory virus that has infected hundreds of thousands of people and killed some 10,000 worldwide.

“He says, ‘How bad is this?’ It’s bad, it’s bad,” the president, 73, said then. “But we’re going to be hopefully a best case, not a worst case, and that’s what we’re working for.”

Barron, who is President Trump’s youngest son and his only child with the first lady, is kept out of the public eye given his age.

“Happy Birthday BWT,” Mrs. Trump, 49, wrote on Twitter and Instagram, adding three heart emojis. (The president has not shared a social media message but largely avoids public birthday wishes.)

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From left: Barron Trump with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump in January

President Trump’s comments on Monday about what he told Barron about the virus underlined his changing tone. He had previously downplayed the virus compared to the seasonal flu and claimed opponents were trying to politicize it as “hoax” to damage him.

As of Friday morning, the United States has about 15,000 confirmed cases of the virus, which has killed 202, according to a New York Times tracker.

Worldwide, there have been about 255,000 confirmed cases of the virus and about 10,400 reported deaths.

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Much of American life has been uprooted in recent days as the nation’s leading health experts and government officials urge the public to refrain from gathering in groups of more than 10 to slow new infections — causing offices, factories, restaurants, bars and other public spaces to shutter or switch to takeout or drive-thru only.

The government’s leading expert on infectious disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said on Today on Friday that social distancing efforts to stop the spread of the virus would need to go on for “at least several weeks” more.

From left: First Lady Melania Trump, Barron Trump and President Donald Trump in March 2017
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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Unemployment claims are also expected to rise dramatically while communities “social distance” until the virus is under control and various industries are forced to temporarily close as result.

Both parties in Congress and the Trump administration have said they are concentrating on federal aid to relieve the economic and medical hardships from the coronavirus. Various state and local leaders have pledged similar results.

Mrs. Trump this week also started appearing in nationwide public service announcements to reassure Americans that quarantined life under coronavirus will not become the new normal.

“While changes need to be made now, this is not how we will live forever,” the first lady said in a minute-long PSA originally shared on social media Thursday. “Our children will return to school, people will return to work, we will gather at the places of worship, concerts and sporting events again.”

To prevent the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages maintaining basic forms of hygiene including careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.

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