Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Sends Team Plane to China to Get Medical Equipment for Massachusetts

The plane will bring in 1.2 million N95 masks

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Photo: Nancy Lane/Digital First Media/Boston Herald via Getty

The New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft sent the team plane to China to pick up much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses in Massachusetts, the home of his NFL team.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will reportedly meet the plane as it lands at Logan Airport in Boston on Thursday afternoon, carrying a reported 1.2 million N95 masks, according to The Wall Street Journal. Kraft and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito will also be there.

“I’ve never seen so much red tape in so many ways and obstacles that we had to overcome,” Kraft told the outlet of his and Baker’s effort to acquire the PPE for the state. “In today’s world, those of us who are fortunate to make a difference have a significant responsibility to do so with all the assets we have available to us.”

For weeks, Baker had been pleading with the federal government to ensure that his state would have the necessary supply of medical gear as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) rapidly spreads across the U.S. and overwhelms hospitals and frontline healthcare workers, Politico reported.

On, aid workers from the Spanish NGO Open Arms carry out coronavirus detection tests on the elderly at a nursing home in Barcelona, Spain. The initiative is part of a clinical trial led by doctors Oriol Mitja and Bonaventura Clotet, from the Lluita Foundation against AIDS and the Germans Trias Hospital, focused on cutting down virus transmission. Spain has seen Thursday a new record in virus-related fatalities that came as the country is seeing the growth of contagion waning, health ministry data showed placing Spain neck to neck with Italy, the country that saw the worst outbreak in Europe. The COVID-19 coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death Virus Outbreak , Barcelona, Spain - 01 Apr 2020
Nurse tests for coronavirus. Santi Palacios/AP/Shutterstock

After being consistently outbid for equipment by other states, Baker struck a deal with Chinese manufacturers and reached out to Johnathan Kraft, Robert’s son and a longtime friend, for help. Jonathan is the chairman of the board at Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as the Patriots’ president.

He and his father worked to ensure that the plane, a Boeing 767, would be capable of making the lengthy trip to Shenzhen, China, and carry massive cargo. Additionally, the Kraft family paid $2 million, which was approximately half the cost of the shipment.

The total order was for 1.7 million masks, so a second shipment is now being planned to get the remaining 500,000 masks.

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Before landing in Boston, the plane made a stop in New York, where Baker and Kraft donated 300,000 masks to the state that has become the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reports.

As of Thursday afternoon, April 2, there are at least 234,000 people across the U.S. territories who have tested positive for the virus and at least 5,700 patients who have died, according to a New York Times database.

New York makes up 92,381 of those cases and accounts for 2,468 deaths. Massachusetts has reported 7,738 cases and 122 deaths.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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