The New England Patriots’ team plane is being used to transport 1.2 million N95 masks from Shenzhen, China, to the United States. According to The Wall Street Journal, the transfer was the result of multiple global negotiations and the Massachusetts governor, Charlie Baker, calling on Patriots team president Jonathan Kraft for his help in acquiring the masks.
The Patriots’ plane had to be upgraded for international travel and a waiver to avoid a 14-day quarantine in China was granted if the crew did not leave the aircraft, according to the Journal.
The Kraft family paid $2 million, about half the cost, to acquire the masks, according to the newspaper. The initial order was for 1.7 million masks, but only 1.2 million could fit on the plane. The remainder of the masks are set to be delivered in another shipment, the Journal reports.
Of the total, 300,000 masks have been pledged to New York state, which has the most coronavirus cases in the country with more than 83,000. Massachusetts has more than 7,700 coronavirus cases and more than 120 people have died due to the virus.
N95 masks are medical-grade equipment that have been in short supply for health care workers and first responders in the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic.