BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Patriots ownership was “a phone call away,” willing to provide the team airplane for a flight to China to pick up the majority of an order of more than one million masks that will be used during the coronavirus crisis.
The team’s Boeing 767 went to Shenzhen, China Wednesday to pick up 1.2 million N95 masks. The plane, dubbed AirKraft, is set to arrive at Logan Airport Thursday afternoon with the gear.READ MORE: Hopkinton High School First In State To Drop Mask Mandate
About 500,000 of the masks in the order did not fit on the plane and will be sent to Massachusetts next week. Of those arriving in Massachusetts on Thursday, about 300,000 will be distributed to New York.
The Kraft family also paid $2 million, covering about half the cost of the masks.
Baker called it a collaborative effort between the U.S. and Chinese governments and the private sector, allowing the personal protective gear (PPE) to reach Massachusetts.
“The Krafts were terrific. They were a phone call away and immediately went to work on the logistics associate with this and did not stop until they could make it happen. This was a total team effort on every level,” Baker said. “There is still with respect to PPE much more work to be done. But a momentary success like this along the way and all the community generosity that went with it is something that can help everybody working together, keep people healthy and safe, and for that we all enormously grateful.”READ MORE: 'Our Kids Deserve Better': Photos Show Spoiled Meals Served To Lynn Elementary Students
Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said MEMA and the Department of Public Health team will go through and prioritize how the masks will be distributed.
“The goal,” Sudders said, “is to keep all organizations stocked with a seven day supply of PPE for those facilities in need.”
Baker said the state had an order of 3 million masks ordered through BJ’s Wholesale confiscated in New York in early March. That, he said, was when he decided a traditional approach to acquiring protective gear was not going to work.
“One of the best parts of being in Massachusetts is you have a lot of organizations and individuals that have global networks,” said Baker. “We concluded that the best way to make this happen would be if we could find a private trip we could treat as a humanitarian mission. That was when I called Jonathan Kraft.”
Baker said that while the order will critical, the state will continue searching for more PPE any way they can.MORE NEWS: FBI Offering Up To $20K For Info On Suspect In 1981 Norton Murder
“While we will never have enough gear, we are always going to be seeking gear, this gives us the thing we have heard time and time again from first responders and emergency medical personnel and nurses and doctors and everybody else on the healthcare side, which is N95 gear. The fact that we will be able to decontaminate it and use it on an extended basis using an FDA approved machine that will be located right here in Massachusetts creates a shelf life for that equipment that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.”