Patriots plane ferries critical masks from China to US

BOSTON (AP) — The New England Patriots private team plane is expected to return to Boston from China on Thursday carrying more than 1 million masks critical to health care providers fighting to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker secured the N95 masks from Chinese manufacturers but had no way of getting them to the U.S. Baker said at an afternoon press conference that an earlier order for 3 million masks had been confiscated at the Port of New York.

The team stepped into help.

In an interview with radio Thursday, Kraft Sports and Entertainment chief operating officer Jim Nolan said the Chinese government officially didn’t sign off on the trip until March 27. He said the hurdles included legal logistics that were only cleared thanks to cooperation involving multiple state, U.S. and international entities.


“I think it is the biggest work challenge I have had in my 24 years with the Kraft family,” Nolan said.

As part of the deal, Nolan said the Patriots received permission to land in China and got a waiver of a 14-day quarantine because the pilots didn’t get off the plane.

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

Baker said some masks will be going to New York and Rhode island.

The story was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.



Baker said Thursday that Massachusetts could see between 47,000 and 172,000 COVID-19 cases during the current outbreak. That’s between .7 and 2.5% of the state’s population.

Baker said the numbers are based on models that also estimate the state’s peak of hospitalizations will come between April 10 and April 20.

He said the state is experiencing a mortality rate of 1.5% from the virus. He said that’s lower than locations like Wuhan, the city in China where the pandemic began, in part because of the state’s lower smoking rate, lower density, and an earlier start to its social distancing efforts.

Baker said the state is also working to expand the number of intensive care unit beds by 500 over next few weeks.



More than 181,000 more Massachusetts residents filed first-time unemployment claims in the week that ended March 28, the U.S. Labor Department announced Thursday, as the coronavirus pandemic forces the shutdown of businesses.


That’s on top of the more than 148,000 claims the previous week.



Baker issued an emergency order Thursday requiring all coastal beach parking areas managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation closed at noon on Friday.

Baker said he wants to reduce large concentrations of people at beaches during the COVID-19 outbreak. Coastal parkways that provide access to state beaches will also be closed to parking and dropping off passengers.

State beaches will remain open and available to pedestrians for uses like walking, jogging, biking and solitary fishing.

Baker said the state will open some seasonal state parks early.



Construction of a new 10,000-seat ballpark for the Boston Red Sox Triple-A affiliate in Worcester has been halted in accordance with a state directive to suspend all nonessential construction projects during the coronavirus pandemic.

City Manager Edward Augustus told The Telegram & Gazette construction on the $100 million city-owned Polar Park stopped as of Wednesday.

The team currently known as the Pawtucket Red Sox is scheduled to start playing in Worcester next year.

Augustus said it was still unclear what impact the shutdown will have on the project’s timeline.



The number of people in Massachusetts who have died from COVID-19 rose to 122, according to the latest numbers from the state Department of Public Health. More than 7,700 residents have tested positive.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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