Coronavirus Pandemic: New England Patriots Plane Is Flying 1.2 Million Face Masks From China to Boston

Patriots Plane
Rachel Bowers/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The NFL team's owner, Robert Kraft, paid $2 million to help cover the cost of the masks.

The New England Patriots plane is flying much-needed coronavirus crisis medical supplies to Boston from China, CBS Boston reports. A Patriots spokesperson said the team's Boeing 767 went to Shenzhen, China Wednesday to pick up 1.2 million N95 masks, and it's now on its way back to the U.S.

According to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the deal, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker struck an agreement two weeks ago to acquire the critically needed masks from a "collection of Chinese manufacturers," but he had no way to get them back to Massachusetts.

So he turned to Patriots president Jonathan Kraft for help. Owner Robert Kraft also got involved, as did the State Department.

Special arrangements had to be made to fly to China and allow the plane to land. No one from the flight crew left the jet during the nearly three-hour stop and loading process so they wouldn't have to be quarantined in China for two weeks.

The original order was for 1.7 million masks, but only 1.2 million could fit on the plane, so the rest will be sent to Massachusetts soon in another shipment.

In addition to helping work out all the logistics and get through the red tape, the Kraft family paid $2 million, which came to half the cost of the masks.

Kraft and Baker also agreed to send 300,000 of them to New York to help that city fight COVID-19.

The flight is scheduled to land at Logan Airport Thursday afternoon.

This story was originally published by CBS News on Thursday, April 2 at 8:05 a.m.