Breaking: US launches emergency airlift with private cargo carriers

A big UPS plane takes off.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has launched Project Airbridge to expedite the delivery of critical supplies from international locations to distributors around the United States. The first all-cargo plane in the airlift landed Sunday morning at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, President Donald Trump said in his daily coronavirus press briefing.

In a statement, FEMA said the freighter carried 80 tons of personal protective equipment, including 130,000 N95 respirators, 1.8 million face masks and gowns, 30 million gloves and thousands of thermometers for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The White House said the plane came from Shanghai, China.

New York City is the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S. There are more than 139,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 2,400 deaths nationwide.

The president said the emergency airlift will involve 50 flights. Healthcare distributors involved in the effort include Cardinal Health, McKesson Corp., Medline, Owens & Minor, Henry Schein Inc.

FEMA did not respond to requests for more details, but a UPS official participated in the Rose Garden briefing and other express carriers are likely involved in the effort.

“The way we’re going to win this war is with great logistics,” said Laura Lane, president of global public affairs at UPS.

(This is a developing story)