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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Flexport, a freight logistics "unicorn," has successfully sourced and is buying around $1.4 million of face masks and other medical protective equipment that was requested by San Francisco's Department of Public Health.

Why it matters: Many U.S. hospitals and other health care facilities still do not have what they need to keep their employees safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

San Francisco officials told Flexport what they needed and the company managed to source its first batch of equipment via a supplier network in China (including via SF Express — the FedEx of China, which has been a Flexport investor since 2018).

Among the initial batch of items being delivered today are 60,000 surgical masks, 34,000 gloves, 2,000 surgical gowns and 50 thermometers.

  • The company is unprofitable but chose to pay for the goods anyway. CEO Ryan Petersen also reached out to friends for donations to help cover the cost and received $1 million from Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham.

From Petersen's email:

"To buy everything on the city's list will cost $1.4 million. Yes, you read that right. We can equip the entire workforce of the city's front-line healthcare workers with all the protective armor they need as they go into battle with COVID for just $1.4 million. If we don't do it, however, I am convinced that nobody will do it. Flexport will get this done, we will get it done fast, and we will donate the goods to the city. I could ask for payment, and I believe they would pay, but I won't be a war profiteer. The city needs to conserve its money for the long fight that lies ahead."

Petersen also tells Axios that his company has stopped providing its services for any container carrying medical protective equipment unless the shipper can prove that it's destined for a health care facility. This comes amidst reports of supply hoarding and price gouging.

Go deeper

Scoop: Biden briefing calls for 20,000 child migrant beds

President Biden, during a virtual meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

A briefing scheduled for President Biden this afternoon outlines the need for 20,000 beds to shelter an expected crush of child migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The rapid influx of unaccompanied children is building into the administration's first new crisis. A presentation created by the Domestic Policy Council spells out the dimensions with nearly 40 slides full of charts and details.

FBI director: Jan. 6 Capitol attack was domestic terrorism

The FBI views the Jan. 6 Capitol siege as an act of domestic terrorism, director Christopher Wray testified in his opening statement Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Why it matters: The FBI's designation of the attack as domestic terrorism puts the perpetrators "on the same level with ISIS and homegrown violent extremists," Wray said.

Sen. Martin Heinrich to introduce plan for Puerto Rico statehood

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) at a hearing on Feb. 23, 2021 in Washington, D.C. PHOTO: Jim Watson-Pool/Getty Images

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) announced Tuesday they would introduce legislation to start the motions for Puerto Rico statehood.

Why it matters: More than 52% of Puerto Ricans voted last November in favor of statehood, three years after Hurricane Maria struck the island and caused one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history. It exposed the island's vulnerable position as a U.S. territory and its lack of resources to battle poverty.