New England Patriots Send Team Plane to China To Pick Up a Massive Load of N95 Masks


Out of season and out of commission for the foreseeable future due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the New England Patriots’ private plane made an uncharacteristic journey abroad this week.

The organization sent its team’s typical means of in-season travel to Shenzhen, China, to collect more than 1 million N95 medical masks for the coronavirus response, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Born of a partnership between Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, the trip was a logistical feat, faced with far more hurdles than the average international flight.

But to see things come together as various actors across the public and private sector teamed up to cut through the “red tape” and deliver for first responders across the Northeast made several days of tense planning and operation worthwhile.

“I’ve never seen so much red tape in so many ways and obstacles that we had to overcome,” Kraft said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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“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.”

Worried of a potential mask shortage as the number of confirmed stateside coronavirus cases continued to balloon toward its projected mid-April peak, Baker reportedly saw a supply chain breakthrough about two weeks ago, with Chinese providers willing to part ways with a cache of more than 1 million masks.

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A major point of concern for the Massachusetts Republican, however, was transportation of the goods — a problem solved in short order with a phone call to longtime friend and Patriots organization president Jonathan Kraft.

Quick to offer up the team’s Boeing 767 airliner, the Kraft family would also donate roughly half of the $4 million cost to acquire the masks.

But mere provision of the means of transportation was far from the only hurdle keeping a key health resource from its final destination.

Since it was not equipped for overseas travel, the Patriot plane was forced to stop off in Ohio last week for considerable flight upgrades and cargo transport outfitting.

Meanwhile, multiple partners scrambled to secure a Chinese landing for the plane that would not subject the flight’s crew to a two-week quarantine before coming back to the U.S.

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The final deal would see a slim three-hour landing window and bar on-flight crew from exiting the aircraft to aid in loading masks onto the plane.

A local ground team would have to load up the plane instead, accomplishing the task with just three minutes to spare.

“No days off,” Baker tweeted Thursday.

“Thanks to some serious teamwork, Massachusetts is set to receive over 1 million N95 masks for our front-line workers. Huge thanks to the Krafts and several dedicated partners for making this happen.”

According to Politico, the Massachusetts National Guard was onsite at Boston Logan International Airport, ready to transport the supplies to a state stockpile in Marlborough, Massachusetts, upon arrival.

While 1.7 million total masks were purchased, just 1.2 million were able to fit on the plane, with the rest to come in a follow-up shipment.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Baker and Robert Kraft plan to donate 300,000 of the medical masks to Massachusetts’ longtime sporting rival of New York, where health professionals are scrambling to contend with the highest number of cases in the United States.

“It is an honor for our family to be a part of this humanitarian mission,” Robert Kraft later said in a statement, ESPN reported. “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.”

“I truly hope that in doing so, we can in some way inspire others to find creative ways to give more in support of our doctors, nurses and first responders,” he added.

“It’s nice to care for those who provide such compassionate care for us.”

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Andrew J. Sciascia was the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal. Having joined up as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, he went on to cover the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for the outlet, regularly co-hosting its video podcast, "WJ Live," as well.
Andrew J. Sciascia was the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal and regularly co-hosted the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."

Sciascia first joined up with The Western Journal as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, before graduating with a degree in criminal justice and political science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and worked briefly as a political operative with the Massachusetts Republican Party.

He covered the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for The Western Journal. His work has also appeared in The Daily Caller.