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.

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Why it matters: The conference's about-face follows a similar move by the Big Ten last week and comes as President Trump has publicly pressured sports to resume despite the ongoing pandemic. The Pac-12 will play a seven-game conference football season, according to ESPN.

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Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China

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A global initiative to ensure equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines now includes most of the world — but not the U.S., China or Russia.

Why it matters: Assuming one or more vaccines ultimately gain approval, there will be a period of months or even years in which supply lags far behind global demand. The COVAX initiative is an attempt to ensure doses go where they're most needed, rather than simply to countries that can produce or buy them at scale.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:15 p.m EST: 6,967,103 — Total deaths: 202,558 — Total recoveries: 2,670,256 — Total tests: 97,459,742Map.
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  4. Business: America is closing out its strongest quarter of economic growth.
  5. Technology: 2020 tech solutions may be sapping our resolve to beat the pandemic.
  6. Sports: Here's what college basketball will look like this season.
  7. Science: During COVID-19 shutdown, a common sparrow changed its song.

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