Governor Charlie Baker on Thursday greeted the New England Patriots team plane, which arrived at Logan Airport from China filled with nearly 1 million N95 masks destined to protect healthcare workers in the fight against coronavirus.
Baker, standing in the massive Delta Airlines hangar and flanked by large shipping pallets, choked up as he thanked the family of Patriots owner Robert Kraft and others for organizing the transcontinental delivery.
“Jonathan,” Baker said, addressing team president Jonathan Kraft who was also on hand to greet the plane. “Honestly, we can’t thank you and your Dad, and your family enough for answering the call and making this happen.”
“For the many, many dedicated front line workers across this state who are battling COVID-19… this gear will make an enormous difference,” the governor said in brief remarks.
However, he warned, “we need more [gear] — we will always need more,” and vowed that his administration would work aggressively to source additional equipment.
He added that Thursday's delivery had come at a “critical time,” as healthcare workers prepare to confront a surge in COVID-19 cases this month.
“Our job now is to protect each other and look out for each other as we battle this disease,” Baker said. The governor addressed a large crowd of media members, state police officers, and National Guard members, who were waiting to transport, inventory, sort, and deliver the protective equipment.
Despite the government’s “social distancing” guidelines, the vast majority of the hundreds of people in attendance did not wear masks or gloves, nor keep apart from one another as they milled around the hangar.
The governor did not take questions from reporters. Jonathan Kraft did not speak during the brief arrival ceremony.
Melissa Joceyln, director of nursing at Massachusetts General Hospital, thanked the Kraft Family Foundation, the Patriots, the MGH hospital community " . . . and so many, many others who have undoubtedly pulled together to make these N95 masks available."
Earlier Thursday, Patriots fans and public officials took to social media to praise Robert Kraft for offering the the team plane to fly the masks, which are critical to controlling the spread of the virus.
“Kraft uses Patriots plane to get 1.2 million masks from China for health care workers #SmartNews thank you, Bob Kraft,” said sports commentator Peter Gammons via Twitter, adding that Kraft’s late wife Myra “is very proud.”
Gammons’s words were echoed by a tweeter using the handle BostonAttitude.
“Thanks to Governor Baker & Robert Kraft,” the tweeter wrote. “A Million N95 masks are coming from China on Board the New England Patriots’ Plane.”
One person tweeted Thursday that more members of the billionaire class should follow Kraft’s example.
“WILL ALL BILLIONAIRES DO WHAT ROBERT KRAFT DID did & use your money 2 provide all PPE needed?” she wrote. “Bezo,[sic] Gates, Winfrey, Yang, Bloomberg, Jerry Jones, Buffet, Zuckerberg, Michael Jordan, Waltons, etc? All of you are so blessed. Please help out. You can do it.”
Said another fan, “What an amazing story. Thank you @MassGovernor @Patriots & Robert Kraft for making this happen. You’re a great example of coming together for our states and country.”
And Jay Ash, a former Chelsea city manager and Baker administration official who now heads the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, praised Kraft as well.
“We are all Patriots - but none more than Robert Kraft!” Ash tweeted. “Thx Kraft Family for all you do for us, seen & more often behind the scenes.”
Rocker Jon Bon Jovi sounded a similar refrain.
“We are all @Patriots,” the singer tweeted. “Thank you.”
John R. Ellement, Kathy McCabe and Victoria McGrane of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dan Adams can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Adams86.