The first flight in a weekslong airlift of critical medical supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. landed at JFK on Sunday morning. The aircraft was chartered by the federal government and loaded with 12 million gloves, 130,000 N95 masks, 1.7 million surgical masks, 50,000 gowns, 130,000 sanitizer units and 36,000 thermometers, according to Axios. Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, who is heading up the coronavirus supply chain task force, told the news service that Sunday’s flight was a shakedown and there are at least 22 more flights, mostly from Asia, planned. “As we build muscle memory with these distributors, these numbers will grow,” he said.
The unprecedented program is geared toward ventilators and personal protection equipment that is in critically short supply across the country but particularly in New York. Axios said 60 percent of the load and all of the N95 masks were bought by the federal government and the remainder went to private sector customers. Of the federal share, New York gets about half and the remainder goes to New Jersey and Connecticut. Polowczyk said he expects the airlift to last two to three weeks and perhaps as long as a month. “I don’t know of another effort like this,” he said.