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Nonprofits team with United Airlines to fly 50,000 N95 masks to hard-hit areas of New York, New Jersey

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Americans might be avoiding non-essential travel at the moment, but airlines are still putting their planes to good use.

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On Thursday, United Airlines flew a shipment of 50,000 N95 face masks from San Francisco International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey as part of an effort coordinated by Airlink and MedShare — two nonprofit organizations working to provide aid to communities hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak.

The make will be distributed to medical centers in New York City and New Jersey.

The make will be distributed to medical centers in New York City and New Jersey. (United Airlines)

According to United, Medshare sourced the masks from China earlier this week. The airline then agreed to move the shipment to the East Coast at the behest of Airlink.

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“Airlink and United have successfully worked together on countless disaster relief missions across the world, and it’s great that we could be part of this mission to help the people of New York City and New Jersey,” Airlink CEO Steve Smith said, per a media release.

The shipment, which arrived in Newark on Thursday, will be distributed to medical centers in NYC and New Jersey.

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United is currently one of several airlines repurposing some of its grounded fleet to move cargo amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. American Airlines, for instance, announced in March that it had repurposed a Boeing 777-330 to retrieve medical supplies, mail for the U.S. military, and telecommunications equipment from Germany, as part of the airline’s first cargo-only flight in 36 years. Delta, too, has been transporting supplies between Asia and the U.S. on its Airbus planes.