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Louisville's UPS Hub Partners With FEMA To Distribute Medical Supplies

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On Sunday night, a UPS 747 landed in Louisville from Shanghai, China, with more than a million masks, swabs and other critical medical supplies needed amid a countrywide shortage.

The flight is one of 25 in support of Project Airbridge, a coordinated effort between UPS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and others to distribute supplies needed in U.S. hospitals.

At the same time, UPS’s Healthcare division has opened a 450,000 square foot warehouse in Louisville that includes dedicated space for a FEMA distribution center.

UPS Worldport declined an interview for this story, but provided a press release and supplemental materials outlining the effort.

“UPS Healthcare, and our full portfolio of services, is providing a suite of highly-choreographed logistics solutions in support of Project Airbridge,” said UPS d CEO David Abney in the press release.

FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor tweeted that Sunday night’s flight included 1.19 million masks, 682,400 surgical gowns and two million medical swabs.

A similiar planeload of supplies landed in New York city on Sunday night, according to NPR. That equipment is destined for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other high-risk areas.

In total, UPS says the partnership plans on moving more than three million pounds of supplies over the next two weeks, according to the press release.

It is not clear if any of those supplies will be distributed in Kentucky. The release says only that the supplies will be distributed at the direction of FEMA to hotspots throughout the country. FEMA did not immediately return a request for comment.

Sunday's planeload arrived as the Trump administration faces criticism from governors and hospitals who say they have had troubled acquiring gear because of the federal government's response.

Just the day before Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said that the state has placed orders for supplies only to have them bought by the federal government instead.

“It’s very hard to buy things when the federal government is there and anytime they want to buy it, they get it first,” he said.

One UPS employee in Kentucky died over the weekend, Beshear said at a Monday briefing.

UPS employs more than 29,000 people in the Commonwealth. UPS Worldport in Louisville is the company's largest air hub with more than 300 flight arriving and departing daily.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.