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NASCAR 3D-prints coronavirus supplies, Patriots' plane flies masks from China

NASCAR used a 3D printer at its Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., to print a replica of a human head for medical professionals at Wake Forest University so they can refine COVID-19 protection techniques. Photo courtesy of NASCAR 
NASCAR used a 3D printer at its Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., to print a replica of a human head for medical professionals at Wake Forest University so they can refine COVID-19 protection techniques. Photo courtesy of NASCAR 

April 2 (UPI) -- NASCAR is using 3D printers and the New England Patriots flew their team plane to China in two of the latest efforts from the sports world to provide supplies to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

NASCAR has been using 3D printers at its Research and Development Center to print face shield parts before assembling the shields -- -- 40 to 50 a day -- for Novant Health, a four-state network of clinics, outpatient centers and hospitals. The center is in Concord, N.C.

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NASCAR also used printed a 3D replica of a human head for medical professionals at Wake Forest University so they can refine protection techniques against COVID-19.

"We've been heavily focused on the face shields," said Eric Jacuzzi, NASCAR senior director of aerodynamics.

Several racing teams have retooled their normal operations to manufacture medical supplies, including plastic aerosol boxes to protect medical professionals, face shields and respirators.

A NASCAR spokesman said Technique, which makes chassis kits for NASCAR teams, has retooled its factory in Jackson, Mich., and is manufacturing 20,000 face shields daily.

Several NASCAR tracks, including Martinsville Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway are being used for COVID-19 testing and blood drives. NASCAR drivers, including Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Austin Dillon, have provided donations toward coronavirus relief efforts.

"The NASCAR industry is really well-suited to help out with this because we have some of the best fabricators, engineers and mechanics used to working in this fast-paced environment," Jacuzzi said.

Patriots plane flies 1.2 million masks

The Patriots' plane is flying more than 1 million N95 face masks from Shenzhen, China, to the United States.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker thanked Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his family in Twitter on Thursday for the gesture. The Patriots announced that 100 percent of donations to the Patriots Foundation will go directly toward purchasing protective equipment for doctors, nurses, healthcare works and first responders.

"No days off," Baker tweeted. "Thanks to some serious teamwork, Massachusetts is set to receive over 1 million N95 masks for our front-line workers. Huge thanks to the Krafts and several dedicated partners for making this happen."

Sources told the Wall Street Journal that the Patriots' Boeing 767 departed from Shenzhen at 3:38 a.m. Wednesday, carrying 1.2 million masks. A waiver was granted to avoid a two-week quarantine in China if the plane's crew did not leave the aircraft, according to the report. The Patriots' plane had to be upgraded for international travel.

Workers wore full-body suits and masks while loading the boxes onto the plane at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport. The plane is expected to land Thursday at Boston's Logan International Airport, with Kraft and Baker planning to meet it.

"I've never seen so much red tape in so many ways and obstacles that we had to overcome," Kraft said told the Journal. "In today's world, those of us who are fortunate to make a difference have a significant responsibility to do so with all the assets we have available to us."

The NFL announced March 26 that it has teamed up with the players' union, teams, owners and players to donate more than $35 million to the COVID-19 relief effort.

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