The New England Patriots' team plane transported 1.2 million N95 masks from Shenzhen, China, to the United States.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the transfer was the result of multiple global negotiations and the Massachusetts governor, Charlie Baker, calling on Patriots team president Jonathan Kraft for his help in acquiring the masks.
The Patriots' plane had to be upgraded for international travel and a waiver to avoid a 14-day quarantine in China was granted if the crew did not leave the aircraft, according to the Journal.
"I'd been watching Governor (Andrew) Cuomo over the last few weeks and I just think he's done an outstanding job," Patriots owner Robert Kraft told CNN. "He's at the epicenter of this crisis, and he has a calming way about him. He brings confidence. And I have a personal tie to New York City; Columbia was good to me, and gave me a full scholarship as a kid. I love the city. I love the people there. I don't think what's going on is something any of us could imagine.
"So I spoke to the governor and he requested if there was any way we could get some of these masks for New York. I spoke to our governor and he said, 'We're bringing them back.'"
The Kraft family paid $2 million, about half the cost, to acquire the masks, according to the newspaper. The initial order was for 1.7 million masks, but only 1.2 million could fit on the plane. The remainder of the masks, about 500,000, are set to be delivered in another shipment.
The Massachusetts governor gave a "huge thanks to the Krafts and several dedicated partners for making this happen" in a tweet Thursday morning.
No days off. 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. pic.twitter.com/ieV6XMC5Ow— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) April 2, 2020
"It is an honor for our family to be a part of this humanitarian mission," Robert Kraft said in a statement. "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. Multiple organizations across the public and private sectors, all of which were in lockstep with Governor Charlie Baker's visionary leadership, worked together to execute this mission with the purpose of helping save lives.
"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. It's nice to care for those who provide such compassionate care for us."
Of the total, 300,000 masks have been pledged to New York state, which has the most coronavirus cases in the country with more than 83,000. Massachusetts has more than 7,700 coronavirus cases and more than 120 people have died due to the virus.
N95 masks are medical-grade equipment that have been in short supply for health care workers and first responders in the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A number of sports stars, including former New York Knicks guard Stephon Marbury and Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel have offered ways to acquire medical masks, while several sports gear manufacturers have pivoted to making medical equipment during the outbreak.
The Patriots' plane, which was allowed on the ground in China for only three hours, according to the Journal, arrived at Boston Logan International Airport early Thursday night.
According to Politico, the Massachusetts National Guard will then transport the masks to a strategic stockpile in Marlborough, Massachusetts.