The New England Patriots sent their team jet to China this week in order to retrieve 1.7 million N95 medical masks, the NFL said on Thursday. The team said a private jet was needed to expedite the shipment that would have otherwise taken weeks to arrive, as hospitals in hard-hit regions of the country struggle to access supplies needed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a written statement, “It is an honor for our family to be a part of this humanitarian mission. 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.”
The Patriots said 1.4 million of the masks, which were purchased in a partnership between the Kraft family and Governor Baker, will go to hospitals in Massachusetts. Another 300,000 purchased by Kraft will be sent to New York, the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States. The first portion of the transport is expected to arrive Thursday and the remaining stock next week.