THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all for that very warm welcome, and hello, Pennsylvania! (Applause.) It is great to be back in the Keystone State.
And I'm very humbled by the words of Administrator Verma. She is an incredible public servant. And as we as we walked through this amazing factory, saw your craftsmanship in high relief, I can tell you that Seema Verma, leading the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Service, knows the quality of the work that you do and is making those products available to people all across America. Would you join me in thanking Seema Verma for her outstanding service to America? (Applause.)
And it's great to be here with all of you. Thank you for coming out today. Thank you for making some time. More importantly, thank you for being a great American company -- a company that is supporting our military; supplying our healthcare professionals; and a company that, through one of the most challenging times in my lifetime, you kept the work going, you operated as an essential service. Join me in thanking a great American manufacturing company, Oberg Industry, and your great leader, Cliff Forrest. Thank you so much. (Applause.)
It really is inspiring to be in this impressive plant and know that each and every day, as our nation passed through these challenging days, you came to work and provided excellent, excellent resources and products at the point of the need.
So I want to thank you. I want to thank you on our behalf, but let me also extend thanks and greetings from a friend of mine -- a man who loves the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I told him this morning that I was headed to the Keystone State, and, to be honest with you, I thought he sounded just a little bit jealous. (Laughter.) So allow me to bring greetings and gratitude from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
You know, it really is a privilege to be here on the President's behalf today, not just to say thank you, but to be out among people across the Pittsburgh area today. I'd even stopped at David's Diner for maybe the best Reuben I've ever had in my life. But I'm here to tell you, Pennsylvania: A great American comeback has begun, and you're leading the way. (Applause.)
As I stand before you today, every state in America has already begun to reopen for business, and nearly three quarters of America's small businesses have also begun to reopen.
Building on a strong foundation that this President laid over the last three years that saw the creation of more than 7 million jobs, following our efforts to cut taxes, roll back regulation, fight for free and fair trade, and unleash American energy, I'm proud to report to you that, on this day one week ago, the President and I stood in the Rose Garden, and we're proud to announce that in the month of May, thanks to hardworking Americans like all of you, our nation saw the largest one-month increase in jobs in American history. (Applause.) It's true.
You know, I got to tell you, I was -- I was preparing to be on television that morning, and I was hearing what all the economists were predicting. They were all talking about the fact that they thought we might lose 8 million more jobs in these challenging times and that the unemployment rate might go up to 20 percent. But the American people proved them wrong, and businesses large and small created more than 3 million jobs by the middle of May alone. (Applause.)
And we're going to continue to move forward. I was talking to some economic experts over the last week, and they said that at the time that that jobs report came out, that, Cliff, only about 50 percent of small businesses in those first few weeks of May had begun to reopen. And now, according to the U.S. Chamber, we estimate that more than 80 percent of small businesses are open to one degree or another.
And so, for all the encouragement of those numbers -- a great testament to the resilience and faith and hard work of the American people -- we're very confident that it's just the beginning, and this American comeback has just begun. It's true. (Applause.)
And we're going to do all the things that made this economy great over the last three and a half years -- created millions of jobs. And let me also say from my heart, we're going to make law and order a centerpiece of the great American comeback. (Applause.)
Let me say from my heart: What happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis was a tragedy. It shocked the conscience of the nation. And President Trump has made it clear: Justice will be served. (Applause.) There's no excuse for what happened to George Floyd. And there's also no excuse for rioting and looting and the violence that ensued here in Pittsburgh and around the country.
Now, every American cherishes our First Amendment rights. And we respect the concerns and freedoms of peaceful protesters. And I want to promise each one of you that we're -- as we did today at a church in the Pittsburgh area, as the President did yesterday in Dallas -- we're going to continue to listen. We're going to have ears to hear, we're going to learn, and we're going to lead. But we're not going to defund the police. (Applause.)
I think all of you know: Most of the men and women who serve in law enforcement every single day who put on the uniform, who stand on the Thin Blue Line are really the best of us. I grew up -- one of the heroes of my youth was my uncle, who was a Chicago police officer for 25 years. So we're working today, in the aftermath of that -- that tragic death of George Floyd. We're sitting down with law enforcement leaders at every level around the country, and we're working with community leaders, as we did today.
As the President announced yesterday, we're in the process of -- of drafting executive action that will encourage police departments nationwide to meet the highest standards in the use of force, to have more resources for training and de-escalation. But I want to tell you all here in Pennsylvania: We're not going to stop there.
I mean, the truth is that many African American families in our major cities, for more than a half a century, have labored under failed policies of liberal Democratic leadership, depriving them of jobs and opportunities and education excellence. That's why, yesterday, President Trump made it clear that we're going to work with law enforcement and community leaders to find ways that we can improve -- give them more tools and more resources. But we're going to work -- we're going to work to expand jobs and opportunities and education excellence for African American families and all the families of our major cities. (Applause.)
As the President has said, we're going to build on the progress we've made. I couldn't be more proud to tell you that, as we saw those 7 million jobs created in the last three and a half years, we have the lowest unemployment ever recorded for African Americans and Hispanic Americans.
And this President actually passed legislation with my friend, Senator Tim Scott, that created more than 4,000 Opportunity Zones that have already attracted more than $100 billion of job-creating investments in our major cities. In fact, with -- with some of that foundation at work, in that last jobs report I just mentioned, there were more than 300,000 jobs created in that May report for African Americans alone.
We're going to increase African American communities' access to capital, build on the Opportunity Zones, and help them create more jobs. But it's not just about jobs; it's also about making sure that young people coming up have access to the kind of education, including vocational training, that they need to enter jobs in great workplaces like this and to be part of a growing economy.
I mean, the truth is that the President and I are going to keep working every single day to give African American families in our cities and every family the right to choose where their children go to school, whether that's a public or private or parochial or religious school.
So it's about education innovation. It's about prosperity and jobs. But also, one of the things we learn during Seema and my work on the Coronavirus Task Force was the unique and more severe impact of that virus on African Americans in our country. And it was really a reflection of the fact that we have health disparities for many African American families in our inner cities.
So the President also said yesterday that our team is going to be working -- we're going to be working to bring free market principles and solutions to allow African American families to have access to the same world-class healthcare that every American deserves.
And so it's about -- it's about reform, it's about public safety, but it's about prosperity and education and healthcare. And we are not going to rest until we continue the work that we make this a more perfect union. And together, we open America up again for the prosperity of all of our citizens. (Applause.)
But I'm here to talk about the great American comeback. And the truth is, it wouldn't be possible today. It wouldn't be possible today without the strong leadership of President Donald Trump, and the cooperation and compassion of the American people, or the ingenuity and hard work of all the companies like this one that kept food on the table, kept important medical devices headed to our healthcare system, and you kept America moving in the most challenging times.
But it was the President's leadership early on -- I can tell you, as the leader of the White House Coronavirus Task Force -- that bought us invaluable time. It was not even before the month of January was over that President Trump suspended all travel from China. He put the health of America first. It's true. (Applause.) He stood up the White House Coronavirus Task Force. We worked with companies, just like this one, at an unprecedented level.
You know, when the President asked me to do this work at the end of February, he said to me that he wanted a whole-of-government approach, but it was very clear to me early on what he really wanted was a whole-of-America approach. The President brought in major industries, pharmaceutical industries to begin the research on new medicines and vaccines. He brought in -- he brought in industries that would be in the process of creating medical equipment and supplies. I mean, with what we stood up, at an unprecedented level, almost on a wartime footing in this country, was extraordinary to watch.
In fact, I'm proud to report to you that just in Pennsylvania alone, at the President's direction, we were able to deliver more than 660 million masks and gowns and face shields and other personal protective equipment for our outstanding healthcare workers. (Applause.)
And maybe -- maybe most meaningful to us all is as we -- as we looked overseas where the coronavirus was impacting countries, particularly in Europe, we saw hospitals being overwhelmed. We saw people being denied access to equipment, like ventilators. But because of the energetic efforts that the President deployed and because of American industry, I'm proud to report to you that no American who required a ventilator was ever denied a ventilator in the United States. That's a national accomplishment. (Applause.)
We made sure our healthcare workers and the people that they were serving and those families had what they needed in the moment, through the most difficult days of this pandemic.
And we've also been expanding testing across the board. Again, it was early in the process that the President recognized that the old way of doing testing for this kind of illness was simply not going to scale to the volume that we would need. He brought in these vast commercial laboratories. He challenged them to begin to work together.
In fact, when I was tapped at the end of February to lead the White House Coronavirus Task Force, between the CDC and state public health labs, we'd only done about 8,000 coronavirus tests. As of this morning, more than 22 million tests have been performed all across the United States of America. It's an extraordinary expansion of access to testing.
From the outset of this pandemic, the American people have responded, have stepped up, made great personal sacrifices -- each of us did, in our own families. I mean, it's worked a great hardship on our people, but it was an example of the American people's willingness to put the health of others first, of family members, of neighbors, of coworkers, and even people that they had never met.
So all of the American people did what needed to be done through those 45 days. And chief among them were the people that use the products that you make here at this great company. And I want to tell you, you've -- you've been on your feet once, but would you mind getting on your feet for all the doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, and first responders who took care of our families as if they were their own, under the most challenging circumstances imaginable. (Applause.)
It's just truly astonishing to see the way healthcare workers across this country stepped up. They and millions of Americans did what needed to be done, whether it was work from home, school your kids at home, or give some space to seniors in your family or in your neighborhood that would be most vulnerable to the worst outcomes. Some closed down businesses. I'm -- I'm proud to say that that we were able, over this time, to provide businesses large and small across this country with the resources that -- that they needed to get through this difficult time.
The Paycheck Protection Program that the President just extended one week ago has made it possible for many small businesses to keep people on the payroll and avoid losing vital momentum in their companies and in their workers. The truth is, because of what we all did together as a nation, we slowed the spread, we flattened the curve, we saved lives. And every single day we're one day closer to putting this coronavirus in the past.
Now, for all that we've accomplished there are some great partners all along the way. Seema mentioned that we forged a partnership with governors all across this nation. We speak to them every single week -- don't we? -- on an ongoing basis about our national response.
But I must tell you that the relief efforts that the Congress of the United States forged in a bipartisan manner were in the highest keeping of public service. The President said early on: We want people to have access to family leave; we wanted to make sure there was direct payments for families that were impacted by the coronavirus; support for businesses large and small, critical industries, healthcare workers, and first responders.
And leaders in Congress responded. And three of them are with us here today, and I'd like you to give a vigorous round of applause to three great friends of mine, great friends of the President, and great partners in the progress that we have made: Congressman G.T. Thompson, Congressman Mike Kelly, and Congressman Guy Reschenthaler. (Applause.) Thank you so much for what you did for Pennsylvania and for America. (Applause.) Great job.
Because of what they've done, because of what you've done, because of the leadership the President provided, as I said at the outset, now all 50 states have begun to reopen in a safe and responsible manner, even while continuing practices that keep our families and communities safe, practicing good hygiene. We're going back to work. We're going back to worship. We're getting out to stores, to restaurants -- like the one I dined at today -- and we're enjoying the great outdoors, after going without what we once took for granted for so long. We're also putting American manufacturing back to work.
You know, the truth is, from the earliest days of our administration, this President has fought for manufacturing workers and companies just like this one, like the 700 employees at Oberg Industries here in Pennsylvania. You know, and this is a -- this company is emblematic of a great community, but a great manufacturing tradition.
You know, I come from the state of Indiana, and Pennsylvania is an awful lot like Indiana in a certain respect. I always used to say we do two things well out this way: We make things, and we grow things. And this is a great example of a great company that proves that every single day.
And the truth is, under the President's policies of the last three and a half years, manufacturing is doing better than ever before, including this great company. I'm actually told, in 2018, when Cliff bought this company, he set a new record for sales. And then, in 2019, they broke the record again. Congratulations, Oberg Industries. That's an impressive record of success -- (applause) -- and I think they're going to break it again.
I mean, and the work you do here is impressive. Walking around the plant floor, I was incredibly inspired by the skill and the craftsmanship and the enthusiasm of every one of the employees here that I met.
This company plays a critical role in supporting the health of our nation and the security of our country. You make the tooling for aluminum cans that have protected the food supply all throughout this pandemic. You make parts that are critical for knee replacements, hip replacements, neck and back surgeries that Center for Medicaid Medicare Services makes available to Americans every single day.
And I'm also told that Oberg's Pennsylvania workers make parts that are used in ammunition for our troops, for the Abrams A1 tank, the Ohio-class nuclear submarines, and the F-15. Thanks for helping to provide for the common defense, Oberg. (Applause.)
And I'm a little bit partial, Cliff, to people that help out with aircraft. I'm proud to say that I am the proud father of a Marine Corps aviator and the proud father-in-law of a Navy pilot. And so we appreciate your professionalism. (Applause.)
And speaking of great people in uniform, I just had lunch at David's Diner with another one, a good friend of mine and a great friend of the people of Pennsylvania, and a great citizen of this state. He's a veteran of the 10th Mountain Division. He earned two Bronze Stars. He received a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat in Afghanistan. He's a proud son of Pittsburgh, and he has become one of the most prominent advocates for veterans in the United States of America today. So would you join me in recognizing and appreciating a lifetime of service of Sean Parnell? Sean, thank you for being here. (Applause.) Sean, thank you for your leadership -- past, present, and future.
You know, Oberg Industries has been supporting our troops not just with your products, but also through your extraordinary apprenticeship program. I was hearing about it from one of your employees -- a bright, young man. More than 40 percent of Oberg's Pennsylvania employees are graduates of that apprenticeship program. And I hope you know that our administration has been working to expand access to apprenticeships and vocational education from day one.
It's such a great program that one of your toolmaking apprentices actually stayed with the company, I'm told, for more than 28 years and worked his way up to be the CEO. Would you join me in giving a round of applause for Mark Paolillo. Where are you, Mark? (Applause.) He's hiding out.
I'm told we're actually joined today by some 60 apprentices of this company, including a Marine Corporal by the name of Caleb Baum and an Army Corporal named Ron Cooper Junior. Give them a round of applause, will you? (Applause.) Where are you guys? Take a bow, men. Stand up. Thank you for your service. And congratulations, men.
I mean, we're also honored to be joined by a former apprentice here at Oberg Industries, Ron's dad, who's a former Air Force sergeant. Where is Ron Cooper Senior? I want to -- hey, Dad. What a great family.
These are great Americans -- part of a great American company. And we're grateful for your work here and even more grateful for your service in the uniform of the United States of America.
Now, there's going to be a lot more apprentices, I'm told, working here in Pennsylvania, because just yesterday, I was informed that Mark decided to join in with our national effort, the Pledge to America's Workers. And they pledge to create another 225 new jobs and apprenticeships in the next five years. So, thank you, Mark. (Applause.) Thank you, Oberg Industries.
So we're rolling. We're moving forward. And as this comeback continues, we have every confidence that the best days for Oberg Industries and the best days for Pennsylvania and America are yet to come.
And to help create more jobs and prosperity, I'm proud to report to you the President has also gone to work to help our economy out of this difficult time. The President signed executive action ordering every federal agency to find even more ways to provide regulatory relief, particularly for manufacturing all across this country. And we're going to continue to stand for energy independence for the American people. We're going to oppose efforts to ban fracking. And the war on coal is over. (Applause.) Here in Western Pennsylvania and everywhere, we're going to continue to fight every day to advance American energy independence.
But it's great to be with you today. I hope to have a chance to come down and at least greet some of you before I slip back to Washington, D.C. But I had to come out today to talk about a great American comeback but also just to thank all of you -- all of you good people -- that have kept this vital, essential company rolling during some of the most challenging times in the life for our nation.
And now, other businesses large and small are joining you as we reopen America. It seems like we've passed through a very challenging time over the last few months and weeks. And I know, at times, it may seem like there's more that divides us in this nation than any time in my lifetime, but I must tell you -- and I saw this at a church in Pittsburgh today -- I'll always believe that there will always be more that unites us in this great country than could ever divide us, and chief among those things is faith. (Applause.)
And so, as I close, I would just say to each one of you that, if you're of a mind to bow the head and bend the knee from time to time, I'd encourage you to do it. Pray for the more than 110,000 families that have lost loved ones, and maybe some are sitting are among us today. You'll always be on our hearts and in our prayers.
Pray for all of the people of this country who have suffered hardship over the last several months. And pray -- pray that as we listen to one another, that as we look for ways to improve the prosperity and wellbeing and opportunities for every American regardless of race, or creed, or color, that we would continue to bring our nation together on that foundation.
I heard it from pastors today at the Covenant Church, one after another, who said: During these challenging times, we need to -- we need to reach out to that wellspring of American strength that's seen us through much more challenging times, even than those that we passed through this year. We can claim that promise that if His people, who are called by His name, will humble themselves and pray, He'll do like he's always done for the long and storied history of this nation: He'll hear from heaven, and He'll heal this land, this one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.
So let's pray for America as we open up America, because the best is yet to come. Thank you all very much. God bless you. (Applause.) God bless Pennsylvania and God bless America.