UPS manages airlift of health care supplies for FEMA

A UPS Project Airbridge flight loading in Shanghai. Source: UPS

A UPS Project Airbridge flight loading in Shanghai. Source: UPS

UPS launched a two-week operation to run 25 cargo flights carrying masks, gloves, surgical gowns and other equipment for the health care industry under the federal government's Project Airbridge.

The airlift of shipments from China, Malaysia, Honduras and other countries is an initiative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and companies including health care distributors.

The first of the charter flights have arrived, and for the next couple of weeks a combination of UPS planes and other aircraft will ship 3 million pounds of medical goods to hospitals and COVID-19 hot spots in the United States.

The Sandy Springs-based shipping giant said it opened a new 450,000-square-foot UPS healthcare facility in Louisville, Kentucky, near its air hub, with space for FEMA. The massive UPS air cargo operation allows overnight delivery to anywhere in the country.

During a Monday briefing on the coronavirus, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said a UPS employee had died. The employee worked at the UPS Louisville hub.

Some workers have raised concerns about working conditions in UPS facilities, calling for more protective equipment, sanitization and social distancing between workers. Employees have also called for UPS to inform workers when other employees test positive or are quarantined.

UPS, which has 2,200 facilities in the United States, said it has increased cleaning and disinfection for facilities, vehicles and equipment and has distributed protective equipment to employees. It is also now asking employees to self-monitor their temperatures.

The company said it will not confirm cases of the coronavirus due to employee privacy, and if there are public health reasons to disclose a positive case, “the disclosure will come from local health departments or other authorities.”