BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — 1.4 million life-saving face masks that arrived from China Thursday night have been secured and transported to those on the front-lines against coronavirus, and it took a team to make it happen.
Gov. Baker announced on Thursday the critical N95 masks made it into Massachusetts courtesy of AirKraft; donated for use by Patriots' owner Robert Kraft. After the supplies arrived Thursday evening, Baker gave an emotional speech inside a hangar at Logan airport.
“Honestly we can’t thank you and your dad and your family enough, for answering the call and helping make this happen,” Baker said, addressing Patriots' president Jonathan Kraft.
“And for the many, many dedicated front-line workers across this state who are battling COVID-19 on behalf of the people of Massachusetts every single day," Bakers said, "this gear will make an enormous difference.”
In a tweet Friday morning, the team said about one-fifth of the supply of masks is headed to New York.
Gov. Baker said he struck a deal for the supplies two weeks ago with a "collection of Chinese manufacturers," but he said he lacked a way to transport them into the state. So Baker reached out to the Krafts and the U.S. State Department to organize the import of the masks.
“The Krafts were terrific. They were a phone call away and immediately went to work on the logistics associate with this and did not stop until they could make it happen. This was a total team effort on every level,” Baker said.
The Patriots' Boeing 767 left for Shenzhen, China on Wednesday to pick up the N95 masks, landing at Logan Airport Thursday night. Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said the next step is for MEMA and the Department of Public Health team to go through the supply and prioritize how the masks will be distributed.
“The goal is to keep all organizations stocked with a seven day supply of PPE for those facilities in need,” Sudders said.
In addition to helping with the logistical side of securing the masks, the Kraft family also paid $2 million which covered half the cost of the supply.
Gene Hartigan of the U.S. China Partnership Committee helped cut through the red tape and was at Logan Airport as the masks came in. He told WBZ NewsRadio it was an emotional moment.
"All of these people on the front lines was getting something that was very important," Hartigan said. "My daughter Amy is a nurse. I hear the stories from her, I worry about her safety and others, and so it felt really good to know I played a small role in getting this done."
WBZ NewsRadio's Kendall Buhl (@KBuhlWBZ) reports: