BOSTON (CBS) – The New England Patriots plane loaded with much-needed medical supplies to battle the coronavirus crisis arrived at Logan Airport Thursday.
A Patriots spokesperson told WBZ-TV the team's Boeing 767 went to Shenzhen, China Wednesday to pick up 1.2 million N95 masks. The plane landed in Boston shortly before 6 p.m.
Governor Charlie Baker struck an agreement two weeks ago to acquire the critically needed masks from a "collection of Chinese manufacturers," but he had no way to get them back to Massachusetts.
So he turned to Patriots' president Jonathan Kraft for help. Owner Robert Kraft also got involved and so did the U.S. State Department. Special arrangements had to be made to fly to China and to allow the plane to land. No one from the flight crew left the jet during the nearly three hour stop and loading process so they would not have to be quarantined in China for two weeks.
The original order was for 1.7 million masks, but only 1.2 million could fit on the plane, so the rest will be sent to Massachusetts early next week in another shipment.
In addition to helping work out all the logistics and red tape, the Kraft family paid $2 million, which came to half the cost of the masks.
"We knew that purchasing greatly-needed N95 masks and providing the Patriots plane to expedite their delivery to local hospitals would immediately help protect our courageous healthcare professionals," Robert Kraft said in a written statement. "I truly hope that in doing so, we can in some way inspire others to find creative ways to give more in support of our doctors, nurses and first responders."
Massachusetts Nurses Association Chairperson Trish Powers, who works at Massachusetts General Hospital, said the donation is coming just in time.
"We're ecstatic because our supply has run very, very critically low. There's a lot of people taking care of patients who don't have N95s on right now or we're using them for a week or more," she told WBZ.
Kraft and Baker also agreed to send 300,000 of the masks to New York to help with the coronavirus crisis there. A truck will leave Massachusetts Friday with that shipment.
The flight is scheduled to land at Logan Airport Thursday afternoon.
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