Arizona Church Holding Trump Rally Exaggerated Claim It Can Kill Coronavirus, Parent Tech Company Says

An Arizona church hosting a rally for President Donald Trump Tuesday amid the state's worrisome spike in coronavirus cases is being called out for a possibly dangerous exaggeration after claiming to have installed technology that could neutralize COVID-19 molecules in just minutes. Dream City Church, which is hosting the "Students for Trump" event in Phoenix Tuesday, recently promised in a Facebook post that it had installed technology that "kills 99 percent of coronavirus" through "ionization," but deleted the video after being called out by the company that produces the technology in question.

Tim Bender, the Chief Strategy Officer of CleanAir EXP, which sold the air purification system to Dream City Church, told TMZ that the church was vastly exaggerating the abilities of the technology, which has not been tested to combat the pandemic virus. Bender added that while the purification system theoretically can't hurt in the fight against coronavirus, there is no proof that it can neutralize COVID-19. What there has been proof of in testing is the filtration system is COVID-19's cousin, COVID-229E, which has a similar protein structure as the pandemic virus, but Bender said he fears people who saw the church's initial video will think they're in the clear with coronavirus.

"We understand there is recent confusion around the claims made by one of our customers around our laboratory testing. We’re at the forefront of air and surface purification testing and technology – we tested with a third-party Certified Biosafety Laboratory on the best coronavirus surrogates available (Coronavirus 229E and Cystovirus Phi6) and found our patented technology leads to a 99.9% elimination of airborne coronavirus surrogates," Bender added. "We do not, however, eliminate COVID-19 at this time. Our coronavirus surrogate testing results are significant for the future of clean air. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the CDC for additional laboratory testing and support the CDC’s guidelines on hygiene habits to prevent the spread of COVID-19."

Pastor Luke Barnett said in the now-deleted video, "When you come into our auditorium, 99.9% of COVID is gone, killed if it was there in the first place." He continued, "You can know when you come here, you’ll be safe, protected. Thank God for great technology and thank God for being proactive."

With spiking numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Arizona over the past few weeks, Trump's rally Tuesday has come under criticism as people are encouraged to continue to socially distance themselves and stay away from large crowds. But Gov. Doug Ducey said he had no plans to intervene in the public’s "voluntary events” as long as hospitals have bed and ventilator capacity, as per The Arizona Republic. "We’re going to protect people’s rights to assemble in an election year," Ducey said during a press conference last week.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said Monday that masks would be required for all attendees of the event and provided at the entrance. "Everyone attending tomorrow’s (Tuesday's) event, particularly any elected official, should set an example to residents by wearing a mask. This includes the President," Gallego said in a written statement to the Republic. "Public health is a group effort, not a partisan issue. It requires the participation of every resident and level of government."