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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

SC Receives Shipment Of 1.3 Million Face Masks From Chinese Manufacturers

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Boeing
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South Carolina's largest health care system has received a shipment of 1.3 million surgical masks from manufacturers in China. The masks will be distributed to Prisma Health hospitals and facilities across South Carolina — and represent a little less than month's supply for the hospital system.

The shipment arrived aboard a Boeing Dreamlifter jet at the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport Sunday morning, where it was greeted by Gov. Henry McMaster and other elected officials.

"This is a great day for our state. It's a great day for our country," McMaster said, "In South Carolina, we want to recover that competitive advantage that we have had in prosperity for our people and make it grow and make it stronger, and this today is one step in that direction."

In a news release, Prima Health said the masks had been purchased in late March but were unable to be quickly shipped out of China. According to the release, Boeing covered the cost of delivery, and it represents Boeing's largest single personal protective equipment delivery made to health care providers during the pandemic.

In recognition of Boeing's delivery, Prisma said it would donate 100,000 of the masks to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham was among those at the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport as the shipment was unloaded onto the tarmac. He called it a "surreal moment" and said it illustrated how the medical supply chain in the country had "gotten out of our control."

"We don't want to do this again," Graham said, "In the fall, we want the masks made in the United States."

The delivery was facilitated in part by Greenville resident and businessman Neil Ferrier, owner of design firm Discommon. Ferrier, a Clemson University alum, helped source the masks from "trusted manufacturers in China," according to the news release.

Mark O'Halla, president and CEO of Prisma Health, thanked Ferrier in his remarks at the Greenville-Spartenburg Airport on Sunday, calling him a new community partner.

"It's these kinds of collaborations that have allowed us to weather the storm and get to this point in this pandemic," O'Halla said. "Together we will be able to do anything we need to do to keep the residents of South Carolina safe and healthy."

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