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NFL Patriots plane brings 1.2 mil masks from China to USA

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New York (AFP)

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has used the NFL team's airplane to deliver 1.2 million protective masks from China to the United States for coronavirus medical workers needing them.

The effort came after Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker ordered 1.7 million masks from China but had no way to get them from Shenzen back to the Boston area.

"Thanks to some serious teamwork, Massachusetts is set to receive over 1 million N95 masks for our front-line workers," Baker tweeted Thursday with a photo of masks being loaded onto the plane. "Huge thanks to the Krafts and several dedicated partners for making this happen."

The Patriots' red, white and blue plane -- a Boeing 767 complete with images of the team's six Super Bowl trophies on the tail -- flew to China, picked up the cargo until the plane was filled and departed.

Another 500,000 masks that would not fit aboard will be shipped and arrive next week, according to The Wall Street Journal, which detailed the operation.

Issues Kraft had to overcome included upgrades to the plane for international travel and a waiver for virus quarantine that required the crew not to depart the plane while in China.

"It is an honor for our family to be a part of this humanitarian mission," Kraft said in a statement.

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