4:20 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Please. Those are friendly truckers. They’re on our side. It’s almost a celebration in a way. Please sit down. Please.
The First Lady and I are thrilled to welcome you this afternoon for our second event recognizing extraordinary Americans who have responded to the invisible enemy — we know what the invisible enemy is; we’ve learned a lot — with exceptional bravery and commitment and love. And we appreciate it very much. Great job, fantastic job.
In the midst of this pandemic, our nation has been united in grief and in prayer for the precious lives that have been lost. We’ve also come together in awe and admiration for the heroism and patriotism that we’re witnessing all across our country.
Here with us today is Amy Ford, a nurse of 17 years, from Williamson, West Virginia — a great state. Where is Amy? Hi, Amy.
Weeks ago, after telling her children she loved them, Amy got on a plane for the first time in her life and traveled to New York to help. For the past 42 days, she’s been working 12-hour shifts in the intensive care units of Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn. I know it well; I know that building well. I passed it many, many times. And Amy has been serving the coronavirus patients around the clock. She once held the hand of an elderly patient all night long, just so the woman would not feel alone. Boy, that’s something. Thank you, Amy. That’s incredible.
I want to thank you for what you’ve done. What a great story. I’ve heard about this story. Please come up and say a few words. Please, Amy. That’s great.
MS. FORD: Hello. I want to thank you for having me here today. Being able to serve our country as a frontline worker during this pandemic has truly been an honor.
I — like you said, I’ve been an RN for 20 — or for 17 years. Under normal circumstances, as a nurse, I would have an idea of a treatment plan. And unfortunately, I was not afforded that comfort in the beginning of this pandemic. These were not normal circumstances. There were times of trial and error and a whole lot of prayer.
I had to adapt to a new way of nursing — one where treatment was still unknown; one where families had to trust my word, and I had to prove that my word was trustworthy; one where I could only provide comfort by holding my patient’s hand because I could no longer give comfort with numbers and statistics of success rates. Those were unavailable in the beginning. I provided families comfort through FaceTime calls — holding my phone up to a patient’s ear, hoping that, by hearing their loved one’s voice, it would in turn give them comfort as well.
This experience has been one of the most emotionally challenging things that I’ve ever been through, but it has made me a better person in the end.
There is a light at the tunnel. We are beginning to see progress, and we’re starting to see stories of success. This virus may have initially caught our great nation off guard, but we will overcome this and we will prevail.
THE PRESIDENT: Amy, did you ever catch the virus? Did you ever —
MS. FORD: No.
THE PRESIDENT: You never got it. So with all of that long hours and with very, very sick people, you never caught the virus.
MS. FORD: No, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: What do you attribute that to?
MS. FORD: PPE.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, really? Good. Good protection.
MS. FORD: We have had protection.
THE PRESIDENT: So you feel — so you’ve had great protection?
MS. FORD: I have.
THE PRESIDENT: So you feel that if you have the protection, you won’t catch it. You feel that?
MS. FORD: Yeah, I feel that’s what protected me.
THE PRESIDENT: That is fantastic.
MS. FORD: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Wow.
MS. FORD: And I have not had short- — me, personally, I have not had any shortage of PPE.
THE PRESIDENT: And your coworkers, are they — do they —
MS. FORD: Not at the hospital that I’m at. No, we haven’t.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s incredible.
MS. FORD: They have provided excellent —
THE PRESIDENT: So you all have very good equipment —
MS. FORD: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: — as the expression goes, right?
MS. FORD: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: The gowns and the masks. Everything.
Thank you very much, Amy.
MS. FORD: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great. Amazing. (Applause.) It’s a great story.
Also with us is Ben Ross, the cofounder of a small, custom tie business called Brackish Bow Ties in Charleston, South Carolina. A great place.
Ben has also — with his team — has shifted to producing protective masks for medical workers, and he’s done it completely free of charge. That’s fantastic. As Ben says, “We’ve pushed the gas pedal down, and we haven’t let up.”
So Brackish Bow Ties has donated more than 2,000 masks to 31 medical facilities in 10 states. And Ben’s also been able to keep all 48 of his employees on the payroll thanks to the Paycheck Protection Program. Great, Ben.
Could you come up and say a few words? I can tell it’s you by the tie. I assume that’s — yes, that’s the man I’m talking about. Thanks, Ben.
MR. ROSS: Thank you so much, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MR. ROSS: It is truly an honor to be here.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Ben.
MR. ROSS: It is because of Jeff Plotner’s guiding hand, the passion of the entire Brackish team, and the leadership of this country that we are being recognized here today. I am humbled to be in this garden today with such an amazing group of individuals making such a difference during these unprecedented times. Congratulations to you all, and thanks so much for all y’all are doing.
I have no doubt that the United States of America will soar above this, and come out stronger and more grateful for family, friends, community, and this nation. Because we all know we’re all in this together, and only together will we be able to curb coronavirus.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Great job. Thank you very much.
MR. ROSS: Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Fantastic. And I like that tie very much, by the way.
Today we also honor Sergeant Spencer Garrett, an officer with the New York PD — that’s New York’s finest, that’s for sure — right? — who contracted the coronavirus. After four weeks of fighting a painful battle against the virus, Spencer recovered and immediately returned to the frontlines. Grateful for all of the support of his family, friends, colleagues, and time — all of the people and the work he’s done, Sergeant Garrett wanted to provide that same kindness to others.
And I know so many of the people on — members of New York’s finest, and we love them. And say hello to them. Okay?
With the aid of his union, Spencer has made it his mission to support these fellow New Yorkers. So, if you would, I’d love to have you come on up and say a few words. Thank you.
SERGEANT GARRETT: Good afternoon. First, I’d like to start by thanking President Trump and the First Lady for their unwavering support of the NYPD.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
SERGEANT GARRETT: As one of your hometown cops, I thank you for your leadership during these uncertain times.
On March 29th, I tested positive for COVID-19. Breaking the news to my parents, Janet and James; my brothers, Lee and Sam; and to my eight-year-old daughter Leanna (ph) was downright scary. I saw the fear in their eyes. I looked at my daughter and I assured her Daddy wasn’t going anywhere.
After a vigorous one-month fight, I returned to duty in late April. After the experience with the virus, I felt compelled to help the residents of the housing development start patrolling in East Harlem, New York. We are all in this fight together.
Almost 6,000 uniformed and civilian members of the NYPD contracted COVID-19. Unfortunately, some of those members didn’t make it home to their loved ones. Handing out N95 masks and engaging in important dialogue by educating the residents that are only — do not have support and access to PPE hit close to home for me — excuse me.
I’m honored to be here. I’m honored to be an NYPD sergeant. And most of all, I’m honored to be an American. God bless police officers, first responders, and all of the frontline workers around the country. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: So how was that? You went through that process, and it took quite a while. It took longer than you would have thought.
SERGEANT GARRETT: It took almost four weeks, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: And what was it? Just complications?
SERGEANT GARRETT: Complications. I’m an asthmatic, so it was a little more difficult for me.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I see. I see.
SERGEANT GARRETT: And I took a little extra care, but my daughter was there for me. She helped me out a lot. And she’s my hero.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s fantastic.
SERGEANT GARRETT: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: You’re my hero. Okay?
SERGEANT GARRETT: Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Say hello to everybody.
SERGEANT GARRETT: I will.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) That’s great.
We’re also joined by three terrific Girl Scouts. We are also joined by three terrific Girl Scouts — Lauren, Sravya, and Laila of Girl Scout Troop 744 from Elkridge, Maryland — along with their troop leader, Megan Langley. Thank you very much. That’s great. That’s really great. These amazing 10-year-olds have donated 100 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to local firefighters, doctors, and nurses and have
spent [sent] approximately 200 personalized cards to healthcare workers all over. And they’re going to do a lot more. Their ambition is to do a lot more.
And I think, Laila, you’re going to come up and you’re going to speak? Why don’t you all go up and stand, and maybe, Laila, you say a few words? That’d be great. Thank you very much. Please. (Applause.) That’s great. Thank you.
MS. KHAN: Hello. My name is Laila Khan, with Troop — Girl Scout Troop 744. I just wanted to say thank you, Mr. President. It is an honor to have been invited to the White House, and it has been a very exciting day.
We’d like to first thank you and your staffers for ensuring our safety today. We appreciate all the safety measures that were put into place.
In the middle of March, when everything began to shut down, we, like many Americans, felt compelled to support our healthcare and other essential workers and show our appreciation. We donated cases of cookies to our local firehouses and hospitals, and we made cards to mail to hospitals in our community.
Our troop has a number of parents that are healthcare workers, so one of the parents helped to take our personalized cards and place them on the lockers of doctors, nurses, and other essential workers throughout Children’s National Hospital.
While we are honored that the troop was invited to be here today, we know we are just part of the millions of other children out there that are doing amazing things to support their community, their friends, and their family.
It is a privilege to be here representing all of them. They’ve made cards, painted pictures, held virtual parties, and have demonstrated how we are all in this together. Our message is that everyone can do something, whether it is donating cookies, adjusting to distance learning, or help- — or just helping out our parents.
We have come together to support each other during this uncertain time. Thank you for the opportunity to serve our community, our essential workers, and our country. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thanks, Laila. What a great job. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MS. KHAN: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much, all three. Great job.
Also with us today is Clay Young, a real estate developer and landlord from Jonesboro, Arkansas. That’s a fantastic place. In March, one of Clay’s small-business tenants informed him that they were concerned that they would be unable to afford the rent. He immediately took the tenant’s rent check, ripped it up, and then waived April’s rent as well.
Clay had only one condition. He said to his tenant: “Take care of your family and pay your employees. Just take care of those employees, please. We’ll get through this together.” And that’s what’s happening. Clay then told 11 more small-business tenants that he’d waived their rent payments as well.
With the help of PPP loans, many reopened the doors this week — they just reopened. So, Clay, I want to thank you very much on behalf of all of us in this country. And if you’d come up and say a few words. That’s a great thing. Thank you, Clay.
MR. YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MR. YOUNG: Thank you so much for having my wife Pam and I here. And the First Lady, thank you. It’s truly an honor. I also want to say how proud I am to be part of a community and a great nation — that we’ve all gathered together to help one another through this trying time.
You know, the — the work that I’ve done in my hometown of Jonesboro, Arkansas — the focus of that has been on making my community better. As I saw what the virus was doing and saw what the virus would be doing to the small business and to the employees of the small business, I realized that I needed to work with my tenants, and forgiving the rent was the — the only option.
And I remembered thinking, “You don’t kick people when they’re down.” And that over the last 20 years of being a small business myself and a developer and also a landlord, there’s been tough times. And in those tough times, I remember those people that came and they helped me and my family. And so, in that moment, I thought this is my chance to maybe just have some gratitude and some humility and pay that forward. And I’ll always remember those people.
So then, after that, we — I helped my tenants with the PPP loans. And I helped them — helped to participate in this amazing program that — what has really served as an invaluable bridge for us all and which brings us to where we are this week.
So as we work towards reopening the economy and maybe returning our lives to some sense of normalcy, I just want to say thank you so much, again, for having me here today.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I want to say to you also — and being a landlord is a pretty good business and I heard you’ve done really well. And it’s nice what you’ve done, Clay. We appreciate it very much.
MR. YOUNG: Thank you, sir. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Say hello to the people of your state. Your state is wonderful.
MR. YOUNG: Yes, sir. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: I like it. You know that. Thank you, Clay. (Applause.)
So during this difficult time, our citizens are rising to the challenge, just as generations of Americans have done before us. America has never faced a trial like this. We’ve never had anything like this happen. But we’re going to endure, and we’re going to thrive, and we’re going to do better than ever before.
The men and women we honor today remind us that the bonds that unite us in times of hardship can also raise us to new heights as we reopen and recover and rebuild. In the months ahead, we will harness our love and all of the things that we hold so dear to our heart for our family, for our community, and for the country, and we’ll make America greater and stronger than ever before.
And we’re going to transition into greatness. We’re going to be seeing it, and you’re going to be seeing it very soon. There’s a pent-up demand, and there’s a pent-up love, and there’s so many things happening, and you’re going to see the fruits of all of the work that we’ve all been doing — working 24 hours a day, in some cases.
So, I’d like to thank everybody for being here, especially our great, great heroes. Because that’s what you are — heroines and heroes. That’s exactly what you are. And I’d now like to ask these wonderful and courageous Americans to come forward as I present them with a letter of recognition.
And I want to thank our First Lady. This was a very important event for First Lady Melania. Thank you very much. Great job you’re doing. Thank you. Thank you, honey. (Applause.)
(The Presidential Letters of Recognition are presented.)
END 4:39 P.M. EDT