Patriots owner used team plane to get over 1 million N95 masks from China

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BOSTON (WPRI) — A plane full of medical supplies will be landing in Boston on Thursday afternoon.

Twitter users were curious after they saw the New England Patriots Plane, also known at “AirKraft,” leaving T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island earlier in the week, but it was unknown where it was headed until Thursday.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft sent the plane to China to pick up “much-needed personal protective equipment” for Massachusetts, one of several states desperate for supplies.

According to a release, Kraft partnered with Gov. Charlie Baker to purchase 1.4 million N95 masks to replenish the inventory of personal protection equipment (PPE) at hospitals throughout Massachusetts.

Baker tweeted out a picture of the Patriots plane in China with N95 masks being loaded onto the plane.

“Thanks to some serious teamwork, Massachusetts is set to receive over 1 million N95 masks for our front-line workers,” he wrote. “Huge thanks to the Krafts and several dedicated partners for making this happen.”

On Wednesday, Baker announced there are 7,738 confirmed cases in Massachusetts, an increase of 1,118 since Tuesday. It is the largest spike the state has seen so far.

Baker also announced 33 more deaths related to COVID-19 have been reported in Massachusetts, bringing the total to 122 and the state has conducted more than 51,000 tests.

“It is an honor for our family to be a part of this humanitarian mission,” Kraft said. “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.”

In addition, Kraft purchased 300,000 N95 masks to provide aid to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York. This PPE will be transported from Boston to New York on Friday.

On Wednesday, Cuomo announced that nearly 46,000 city residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 1,374 deaths from the virus.

The release continues to say that finding an inventory of 1.7 million masks during a global pandemic was “challenging, but getting them to Boston and New York proved to be a herculean task involving the cooperation of an ambassador, two nations, three governors, one of the world’s largest companies and one of the region’s most philanthropic families – a family that happens to own a rather large AirKraft.”

Baker will greet the first of two shipments when the plane arrives at Logan Airport with Kraft and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. From there, the Massachusetts National Guard will transport the equipment to a strategic stockpile in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

Approximately 1.2 million masks will arrive Thursday, and the remaining 500,000 masks are scheduled to arrive as early as next week.

Prior to Thursday’s shipment, Kraft had previously donated 100,000 N95 masks to New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.

“Multiple organizations across the public and private sectors, all of which were in lockstep with Governor Charlie Baker’s visionary leadership, worked together to execute this mission with the purpose of helping save lives,” Kraft said. “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.”

The Kraft family and the New England Patriots encourage all fans to donate to the Patriots Foundation for healthcare heroes.

For the remainder of April, 100 percent of donations to the foundation will be used to purchase additional PPE’s and other medical supplies.

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