Young people listen to U.S. President Donald Trump as he delivers an “Address to Young Americans” at the Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., June 23, 2020.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued cease and desist letters to a megachurch and an air filtration company after the church claimed its air filtration system could kill the coronavirus.
President Donald Trump visited the church for a campaign event on Tuesday.
In a press release on Friday, Brnovich said Dream City Church and Clean Air EXP may have misled consumers by suggesting air systems could neutralize the novel coronavirus.
“We will not tolerate companies or individuals attempting to deceive or exploit the public during this public health crisis,” he said.
Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona, posted a video on Facebook over the weekend featuring senior pastor Luke Barnett and chief operations officer Brendan Zastro, in which they claimed their air filtration system from Phoenix-based Clean Air EXP could kill “99% of COVID within 10 minutes.”
The video has since been deleted, and the church issued a clarification in which it said the filtration does not eliminate the virus.
“We have heard Coronavirus and COVID used interchangeably,” the church said. “Our statement regarding the CleanAir EXP units used the word COVID when we should have said Coronavirus or COVID surrogates. We hope to alleviate any confusion we may have caused.”
Clean Air EXP says on its website that its air filtration system can eliminate test surrogates from some coronavirus strands, but not the one that causes the COVID-19 disease. The company performed tests on active coronavirus 229E test surrogate — one of the viruses responsible for the common cold.
The attorney general’s office said in its press release about cease and desist letters that Clean Air EXP “has advertised and continues to advertise that its air filtration products neutralize 99.9% of viruses that are ‘COVID-19 surrogates.'”
“Moreover, previous representations made by Clean Air EXP under the heading ‘COVID-19 REPORT’ on the company’s website suggested that its filtration systems would neutralize 99.9% of ‘coronavirus,’ when in fact this was based on testing of coronavirus 229E, a virus which causes the common cold,” the attorney general’s office said.
The attorney general’s office said Dream City was “placed on notice that misrepresentations and false promises related to the safety of church facilities may violate the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.”
Dream City hosted the president for a Students for Trump rally on Tuesday. Photos from the event showed many people not wearing masks and sitting in close proximity to one another.
More than 66,000 cases of the coronavirus have been recorded in Arizona, and at least 1,535 people have died from the disease in the state. On Thursday, the Department of Health Services reported 88% of intensive care units were in use.
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