BOSTON (AP) — The New England Patriots private team plane returned to Boston from China on Thursday on a rainy afternoon carrying most of an order of 1 million masks critical to health care providers fighting to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Standing in front of the plane on the tarmac at Logan International Airport, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker thanked Patriots owner Robert Kraft, officials in China who partnered with the state, and medical workers who need the masks.
“This shipment comes at a critical time as we prepare for an anticipated surge in the coming weeks ahead,” Baker said. “What we were able to accomplish with this particular mission will go a long way forward in this fight.”
Tonight’s arrival of a major shipment of N95 masks on the @Patriots‘ plane was a significant step in our work to get front-line workers the equipment they need.
And its an example of how collaboration and partnership can lead to real solutions during these challenging times. pic.twitter.com/THwofdrTlt
— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) April 3, 2020
Baker secured the N95 masks from Chinese manufacturers but had no way of getting them to the U.S. Baker said Thursday an earlier order for 3 million masks had been confiscated at the Port of New York and this time he wanted a direct humanitarian delivery to the state.
In an interview with Patriots.com radio Thursday, Kraft Sports and Entertainment chief operating officer Jim Nolan said the Chinese government didn’t sign off on the trip until March 27. He said the hurdles included legal logistics that were only cleared thanks to cooperation involving multiple state, U.S. and international entities.
Nolan said the Patriots received permission to land in China and got a waiver of a 14-day quarantine because the pilots didn’t get off the plane.
Baker said some masks will go to New York and Rhode Island. The story was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
— Raul Martinez (@RaulNBCBoston) April 3, 2020