Patriots jet delivers 1M masks to Massachusetts

The football team's aircraft touched down Thursday, bringing needed N95 masks to Massachusetts EMS providers and hospital workers


Erin Tiernan
Boston Herald

BOSTON — The Patriots plane carrying lifesaving cargo of a million surgical masks touched down at Logan International Airport in a scene that left many — including Gov. Charlie Baker — choked up.

“Honestly, we can’t thank you and your dad and family enough for answering the call,” Baker said to Jonathan Kraft, as the team jet was being unloaded Thursday evening.

Palettes of N95 respirator masks are off-loaded from the New England Patriots football team's customized Boeing 767 jet on the tarmac, Thursday, April 2, 2020, at Logan Airport in Boston, after returning from China. The Kraft family deployed the Patriots team plane to China to fetch more than one million masks for use by front-line workers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Palettes of N95 respirator masks are off-loaded from the New England Patriots football team's customized Boeing 767 jet on the tarmac, Thursday, April 2, 2020, at Logan Airport in Boston, after returning from China. The Kraft family deployed the Patriots team plane to China to fetch more than one million masks for use by front-line workers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Patriots owner Robert Kraft dispatched the plane to China to retrieve nearly a million N95 masks for workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic in Massachusetts.

“For the many, many front-line workers, this gear will make an enormous difference,” Baker added.

“Keeping our frontline workers safe is critical,” Baker added as he thanked the Kraft family, the Patriots organization and federal and Chinese authorities who made the deal possible.

“This brings us a long way in our fight,” Baker said.

As the Patriots’ plane pulled into the Delta hangar at Logan, dozens of National guardsmen were at the ready waiting to unload the cargo hold and get the masks into the hands of doctors, nurses and paramedics.

The supplies will be trucked to the state’s stockpile warehouse in Marlboro before being doled out. The majority of the masks will go to local hospitals and front-line responders, with some being sent to New York and Rhode Island, Baker said.

Baker teased the big announcement in his update on the state’s coronavirus response from Worcester’s DCU Center Wednesday, where the National Guard was installing a 250-bed field hospital, telling reporters he’d have “a lot more” to say Thursday.

He followed that up Thursday morning tweeting a picture of the plane getting loaded up with gear.

The 27-hour journey from Boston’s Logan Airport to China — where Capt. Lincoln Francis said his crew loaded the masks in less than three hours — was weeks in the making the pilot said.

The arrangement was part of a “creative” solution to procure much-needed personal protective gear for frontline workers following a frustrating process, Baker said.

Baker described the process of searching for gear, even bidding against the feds in some instances — a shipment of 3 million N95 masks Baker ordered from BJs in early March was confiscated in the Port of New York, the governor said.

“At that point, it became pretty clear to us that using what I would describe as sort of a ‘traditional approach to this’ wasn’t going to work,” Baker said Thursday.

That’s when the governor began reaching out to everyone he could think of who might be able to help find and transport the supplies.

The Kraft family was more than happy to help out — something nurse Melissa Jocelyn thanked them for on behalf of all Massachusetts General Hospital workers “from the bottom of our hearts.”

The new supplies combined with a new FDA-approved machine that can sterilize N95 masks and “creates a shelf life … that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise,” puts Massachusetts in a much better position in terms of protective gear, Baker said.

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©2020 the Boston Herald

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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