New England Patriots’ Plane Delivers A Million N95 Masks From China
According to The Wall Street Journal, On Thursday the New England Patriot’s Boeing 767 will arrive at the Boston Logan International Airport from an unlikely destination: Shenzhen, China. The football team’s plane was granted a total of three hours to stay on Chinese ground. It took 2 hours and 57 minutes for ground crews to pack 1.2 million N95 masks onto the Boeing. No one in the plane was allowed to exit. An unlikely turn of events, the Patriot’s team plane found itself in China due to Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s initiative.
Worried about state N95 mask shortages, Gov. Baker reached out to a group of Chinese manufacturers and secured an aid package. Yet, transporting close to a million face masks out of China during the COVID-19 pandemic would prove challenging. Confiding in Johnathon Kraft, chairman of the board at Massachusetts General Hospital and New England Patriot’s President, Gov. Baker found another option: the team’s Boeing 767. Still, challenges faced the operation, as the plane needed avionics upgrades and permission to land. The duo and friends sent letters to China’s consul general in New York asking for permits and describing the humanitarian nature of the mission. The consul general acted as an ally and secured a quarantine free path for the flight, demanding the crew to not leave the aircraft. Yet, all travelers still had to acquire visas, and the team frantically took pharmacy photos, before flying the pictures to the Chinese consulate in New York and back. In addition, the Kraft family agreed to pay for $2 million of the materials.
An additional half-million promised masks still remain in China, under the control of Tencent, a cooperating Chinese tech giant. Now, Kraft and Gov. Baker are also sending 300,000 of the acquired masks to New York.