Arizona Mega-Church Set to Host Trump Rally Falsely Claim Its Air Filter Zaps COVID-19
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A mega-church in Arizona, where President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a rally on Tuesday, claimed to have technology to purify the air of the novel corona virus.
The Church is wrong, several scientists said about The Daily Beast. The air filters, which Dream City Church installed in their 3,000-seat auditorium in Phoenix, cannot protect churchgoers - or the president - from SARS-CoV-2.
"When you come to our auditorium, 99.9 percent of COVID is gone - if it was there at all," said Brendon Zastrow, the church's chief operating officer, in a video TMZ had received.
Luke Barnett, pastor of the Dream City Church, said in the same video that the Mega Church installed CleanAir EXP filter units. "It was a technology that was developed by some members of our church," said Barnett. "And it kills 99.9 percent of COVID in 10 minutes."
"This is absurd and will not protect you," Matthew Scotch, epidemiologist at Arizona State University, told The Daily Beast. Dream City Church did not respond to an email requesting a comment.
The CleanAir EXP system, which was built by a Phoenix-based company of the same name, is a combination of filter unit and sensor that works with the existing air conditioning system in a building. Clean Air EXP claims on its website that its product "can purify the indoor air from allergens, pathogens, smells, smoke, mold, ozone and harmful chemicals".
A graphic that appeared on the Clean Air EXP website on Monday evening said the filter "removes 99.9 percent of the coronavirus in the air in less than 10 minutes."
In addition to SARS-CoV-2, there are many types of the coronavirus. In the fine print of the graphic, CleanAir EXP claimed to have tested its system on an "active Coronavirus 229E test surrogate". Coronavirus 229E causes cold symptoms, but is much less fatal than SARS-CoV-2.
150 days of corona virus in the United States: a timeline of how the pandemic unfolded
After The Daily Beast left a message on CleanAir EXP on Monday, company president Jerry McGuire wrote back a link to a statement. This statement corrected the previous graphic. Instead of claiming that the CleanAir EXP filter eliminates 99.9 percent of coronavirus, the statement claims that the system "can safely eliminate 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria."
The new statement also claimed that the company had tested its filter on cystovirus phi6 as a second set of testers for the novel corona virus. Cystovirus phi6 is a popular pathogen for laboratory purposes.
But even if the CleanAir EXP filter removes some pathogens from the air, the process by which it does so can expose people to potential infections. "It's the ionization of the air," said Barnett in his video. "COVID cannot live in this environment."
That's not true, scientists said. The CleanAir EXP filter binds particles through ionization and makes it easier to pull them out of the air. "This does not mean" zapping "the virus and does not mean that the virus has not become infectious," Herek Clack, professor of environmental engineering at the University of Michigan, told The Daily Beast.
"Perhaps the worst criticism is that the 99.9 percent removal in 10 minutes is almost certainly a test where the device is placed in a room, the room is filled with viral aerosols, and once the device is turned on, the Air "flows" from the aerosols, "added Clack. "This scenario does not reflect what happens when people are present."
"Better air ventilation and filtering can help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the air," Jeffrey Klausner, professor of medicine and public health at UCLA, told The Daily Beast. “However, the majority of the spread of infections does not occur in the air, but through close contact and breath droplets. Filtering the air does not help reduce the spread of breath droplets. "
"If one or more people are present and one or more of them are shedding the virus, this technology is not strong enough to protect people around them, and the amount of virus that they are shedding replaces the virus that" is drained ”. "It's like draining a tub while the tap is still running," Clack said. "The result will be a slower net removal of viruses from the air than 10 minutes, or no net removal, or in extreme cases, a net increase in viral aerosols."
A study from 2015 confirms the skepticism of Clack and Klausner. This study found that the effectiveness of an air filter can vary widely, even with viruses that target it. "The distance to the ion source, the type of pathogen and the particle size influenced the removal efficiency."
The Dream City Church's false claim about its air filtering ability comes just a few hours before Trump is supposed to speak in the House of Worship. Trump has shown that despite his advanced age and an increase in infections among his campaign employees, he does not wear a mask in public.
At the end of May, Trump asked the churches to hold worship services even in countries with strict social distance rules. "Some governors have seen liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other places of worship," Trump told reporters. "It's not right ... In America we need more prayer, not less." Churches across the country were reopened days later, many violating local regulations.
"You can know that when you come here you are safe and secure," Zastrow said in his video. According to a May study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, churches with their crowded auditoriums, frequent touches, and loud singing are an important factor in the spread of the novel corona virus.
The CDC analysis describes how a pastor in an Arkansas church and his wife became infected with the virus and may have unwittingly contributed to spreading it to 26 other people. They in turn infected another 33 people. Four of these 61 people ultimately died of COVID.
According to Johns Hopkins University's corona virus tracker, Phoenix is located in Maricopa County, a major COVID hotspot. The county, with 4.5 million residents, had 30,136 confirmed infections on Monday, making it the ninth most affected county in the United States by number of infections.
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