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Organizer expects crowd to wear masks at Trump Arizona speech

Organizer expects crowd to wear masks at Trump Arizona speech
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The organizers behind President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE’s scheduled speech on Tuesday say they expect the majority of 3,000 young Arizonans to wear face masks in accordance with local ordinances.

Trump is set to travel to Arizona to visit Border Patrol agents and check in on construction of the border wall before speaking to a crowd of predominately young people in Phoenix.

A spokesman for Students for Trump told The Arizona Republic that those attending will comply with a city ordinance passed on Friday requiring masks in crowded spaces.

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Phoenix Mayor Kate GallegoKate GallegoOnce a COVID-19 epicenter, Arizona emerges from lockdown Congress should move immediately to devise a comprehensive recovery act Phoenix mayor urges governor to issue statewide mask order, close some businesses MORE (D) earlier this week urged attendees to wear masks, which will also be distributed at the event’s check-in.

"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. "Public health is a group effort, not a partisan issue. It requires the participation of every resident and level of government."

The event comes on the heels of Trump’s controversial campaign rally on Saturday in Tulsa, Okla.,  where most of the attendees opted not to wear face masks in defiance of guidance from public health officials. 

The Arizona Republic noted that Tuesday's event will be held at Dream City Church, a megachurch that has faced criticism for claiming that it installed a ventilation system that "kills 99.9 percent of COVID within 10 minutes."

In since-deleted Facebook video, the megachurch’s pastor, Luke Barnett, said that that “when you come into our auditorium, 99.9% of COVID is gone, killed, if it was there in the first place.”

“You can know when you come here, you’ll be safe, protected. Thank God for great technology and thank God for being proactive,” Barnett said.

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The church touted the first-of-its-kind ventilation system from Clean Air EXP, a company that said its claims are based on a “biosafety lab analysis performed on active coronavirus 229E test surrogate.”

However, the news outlet noted that the company did not link to research and neither the church nor company responded to requests for comment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that common human coronaviruses like 229E usually cause symptoms like the common cold and should not be confused with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new novel coronavirus. 

The Environmental Protection Agency has also said that proper ventilation by itself is not enough to protect people from COVID-19.

In a statement released on Monday night, the church said the ventilation units were “a revolutionary air and surface purification solution that combines the most sophisticated in-room sensors with the latest air purification technology to clean indoor air and surfaces of viruses, allergens, pathogens, odors, smoke, mold, ozone and harmful chemicals.” 

The church has also reportedly faced criticism for hosting a political event with the president, the paper noted.

Secular Communities for Arizona sent a letter earlier this month arguing that the event is illegal because it would violate federal policies against partisan political activity by tax-exempt churches.

The IRS states that tax-exempt organizations “are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign.”

They can host nonpartisan events like voter registration drives or public forums but they cannot host events that appear to show bias or favor toward a candidate.

“It is quite clear from the facts that your church will be violating the law, IRS rules, and the Constitution should you continue with this rally on June 23,” Secular Communities for Arizona wrote.

Dream City Church responded earlier this month and said that it initially agreed to rent out the facility to Turning Point Action for a student event. 

The church said that after they agreed to rent the location, Turning Point Action subsequently informed Dream City that the president was planning to speak at the event.

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“Dream City’s facility rental does not constitute endorsement of the opinions of its renters,” the church said in a statement. “Each facility rental is a means to generate funds so that Dream City may continue to carry out its outreach vision – to reach the hurting and needy in the community for Jesus Christ. Please join Dream City in praying that the church may continue to effectively carry out that mission.”

Turning Point Action is a 501(c)(4) entity created by conservative activist and Trump supporter Charlie Kirk last year with the aim of campaigning against Democrats in the 2020 election cycle. 

Turning Point Action, the sister organization to Kirk's conservative advocacy group Turning Point USA, acquired Students for Trump last summer.

Arizona reported another record day for COVID-19 hospitalizations and a sharp spike in new cases on Monday, the day before Trump’s visit.

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 2,196 new cases on Monday. The state has seen an overall number of 54,586 cases and 1,342 deaths.