Patriots plane ferries critical masks from China to US

In this March 27 photo, Dean and Laura Bates laugh with their sons Colton, left, and Jackson, as they pose for the Front Steps Project in North Andover. With many families housebound during the coronavirus pandemic, photographers are raising money for local charities by offering portraits from a distance. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

 

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., according to a story in The Wall Street Journal.

Team owner Robert Kraft stepped in to help.

“In today’s world, those of us who are fortunate to make a difference have a significant responsibility to do so with all the assets we have available to us,” Kraft told the Journal.

The plane, a Boeing 767 painted in the team's colors and logo, is usually used to carry the team to and from NFL games.

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

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UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS

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.

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BALLPARK CONSTRUCTION HALTED

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.

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CASES ON THE RISE

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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