Donald Trump held a press conference on Friday to discuss his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, and during the entire speech, truck drivers lined the streets to honk their horns. The president claimed to the assembled press pool that the truckers were there honking to show a “sign of love.”
As Trump explained the details about his Operation Warp Speed — a program aimed at rushing the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 — the blare of horns can be heard in the background throughout the nearly hour-long speech, as a YouTube video of the press conference reveals.
Trump interrupted his speech to address the noise.
“And you hear that outside? That beautiful sound? Those are truckers that are with us all the way,” he said. “They’re protesting in favor of President Trump as opposed to against.”
“There are hundreds of trucks out there and that’s the sign of love, not the sign of your typical protest. So I want to thank our great truckers. They like me and I like them, we’re working on something together.”
However, as Rick Santiago told The Washington Post, the truckers were gathered to call on the administration to help the trucking industry, which they say has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Drivers say that the latest stimulus didn’t address the plight of those in the trucking industry. As The Washington Post reports, truck drivers are reporting that they traveled 13 percent fewer miles last month, with larger declines in industries like energy transportation.
The truckers are seeking a suspension of the 12 percent tax currently levied on new trucks and trailers and to protest the low rates that they say they’re being paid. In a similar protest in Houston, truck drivers claimed that they were experiencing wage theft.
“This is our distress call to our commander in chief to address the problems we are facing. He has called us heroes — his heroes need his help now,” Santiago said of the blaring horns.
The noise escalated during the period that Trump took questions from reporters, where he was grilled on why he was pushing for the country to reopen despite the warnings of experts, including his own White House coronavirus expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. The president said that the lockdown measures caused “drugs” and “suicide” and needed to end to stimulate the economy.
Trump was also asked whether he thought it was likely that the vaccine would be ready by the end of the year as some experts predict, and he said that he hoped that it would. However, if it didn’t, he predicted the virus would likely fade away anyway.