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It’s a patriotic thank you for health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak in Connecticut -- a 50-foot American flag, a 38-ton crane and a homemade “THANK YOU” sign mounted on the back of a pickup truck.
“The major point here, I love to be able to get this message out in a positive way and let these medical providers know that we appreciate what they’re doing,” Kyle DeLucia, the founder and CEO of K&J Tree Service, told Fox News. “To show our appreciation, it’s so simple, two words on a sign. It’s so impactful.”
Maybe not so simple: Raising the 100-foot-tall crane required coordination with both the hospitals and local police, DeLucia said.
And there has to be a crane available, which he said he has because the tree service business is slow, but not completely shut down, amid the outbreak.
Within the United States, there have been at least 432,596 confirmed cases of the virus and 15,774 deaths as of Thursday afternoon – placing an enormous toll on medical workers battling it on the front lines in hospitals around the country and in Connecticut.
According to a post on his business’s website, DeLucia came up with the idea with the help of his 8-year-old niece, Kayla, while they were video-chatting last Friday.
Over the weekend, they put together the sign and then mounted it on one of his K&J Tree Service trucks with the help of some employees.
The first stop was at Yale New Haven Hospital on Monday, DeLucia said. That’s where his sister, Jillian Wright, works as a nurse in the intensive care unit.
There, he said the response astounded him.
“As soon as the flag rose, 30-plus hospital workers emerged from the emergency department doors, and multiple floors were filled with people waving from the windows, wiping tears from their eyes,” he said.
Images he provided show people in medical scrubs and facemasks crowding into the hospital windows, with some waving or clapping and at least one making the shape of a heart with their hands.
On Wednesday, he set up the display again, this time outside Norwalk Hospital, which saluted the tree service in a Facebook post.
“All of us were truly touched by K&J’s message,” the hospital posted. “Thank you! #NorwalkStrong.”
DeLucia said he is a native of Hamden, Conn., where he started his business 2004. But six years ago, he opened a second office in Norwalk and now splits his time between the two communities.
He said he plans to continue to thank medical workers at hospitals across the state – with Danbury set for next week and plans underway to visit Stamford and Greenwich.
"I know it will make a positive impact on someone’s day," he said. "That is our motivation."