Trump rally church in Phoenix warned about deceptive air filter claims

Jun 26, 2020, 11:29 AM | Updated: 2:11 pm

PHOENIX – Arizona officials have warned the Phoenix church that hosted President Donald Trump’s rally and a Glendale company about making deceptive claims regarding air filtration systems and COVID-19.

The state Attorney General’s Office sent Dream City Pastor Luke Barnett a letter Thursday demanding that the church remove any remaining statements regarding the CleanAir EXP system’s effectiveness against COVID-19 under the threat of consumer fraud litigation.

Another letter told Glendale-based CleanAir EXP to stop suggesting it can neutralize COVID-19 in apparent violation of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act. Violators of the act can be fined up to $10,000 per incident and ordered to pay restitution to customers and reimburse the state for legal costs.

Both letters say the AG’s office isn’t aware of any existing scientific research or public health authority indicating that any air treatment products can prevent COVID-19 infections.

“Businesses cannot mislead consumers with their advertising, especially when it comes to health issues as serious as COVID-19,” Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a press release.

“We will not tolerate companies or individuals attempting to deceive or exploit the public during this public health crisis.”

The Dream City Church rented its 3,000-seat auditorium to Students for Trump for the president’s rally Tuesday, an event that drew scrutiny for being held indoors with few people wearing masks while coronavirus cases in the state are surging.

The president thanked Barnett during his speech.

“A very special thank you to Pastor Luke Barnett and the Dream City Church for hosting us,” Trump said. “Where is the pastor? Is that the pastor? You’re good looking. Where’s the pastor? I want to see this guy. Oh, he’s good.”

On Monday, in a Facebook video that has since been deleted, Barnett and another Dream City leader touted a CleanAir EXP filtration system as being able to kill “99 percent of COVID within 10 minutes.”

The video also said “when you come into the auditorium, 99 percent of COVID is gone. So you can know when you come down here, you’ll be safe and protected.”

CleanAir EXP advertises that its products are effective against “COVID-19 surrogates” and had previous information on its website under the heading “COVID-19 REPORT,” according to the AG’s press release.

“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 release says.

CleanAir EXP sent the following statement to KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday:

“We are committed to developing and providing advanced air and surface purification systems for homes and businesses. No air purification system, including ours, can universally prevent coronavirus (including COVID-19) infections. On June 23, we updated our website to further emphasize the coronavirus surrogates used in our laboratory testing and made all lab reports available. We encourage following hygiene guidelines in the manner ordered or suggested by government authorities.”

On Wednesday, in response to inquiries about the church video, CleanAir EXP CEO Tim Bender gave KTAR News the following statement:

“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. 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.”

The Arizona health department reported 3,428 new coronavirus cases and 45 additional deaths Friday morning.

That brought the state’s documented totals to 66,458 COVID-19 cases and 1,535 deaths.

It was the fifth daily report of more than 3,000 new cases in the past eight days and the second-most ever behind the 3,591 reported the morning Trump was in Phoenix.

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Trump rally church in Phoenix warned about deceptive air filter claims