On the one hand, President Donald Trump has said the cure for COVID-19 can't be worse than the virus itself.
On the other, he has mused about the effectiveness of UV rays and injecting ourselves with disinfectant.
Certainly, some cures are worse than the disease itself — particularly bleach, a so-called cure universally ripped by experts and anyone in possession of a gram of common sense. Yet here we are, and there's always someone in Florida ready to say, "Hold my beer."
The Guardian reports that Mark Grenon, leader of Florida's Genesis II Church of Health & Healing, which appears to be more of a moneymaking operation than a place of worship, wrote a letter to Trump earlier this week saying that chlorine dioxide, an industrial bleach, is a "wonderful detox" that can kill most pathogens in the body and cure people of COVID-19.
What the Guardian didn't catch, however, is that Grenon is already the subject of a federal probe. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami last week announced an investigation into Grenon and several others affiliated with Genesis II for selling Miracle Mineral Solution, also known as MMS. The group claims the bleach product will cure, treat, or prevent COVID-19 and other conditions, such as Alzheimer's, autism, brain cancer, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis.
An April 16 complaint from prosecutors, which names Grenon and three codefendants, says Genesis operates out of Bradenton and does business in South Florida. The codefendants — Joseph Grenon, Jordan Grenon, and Jonathan Grenon — are "bishops" of the church and are involved in MMS production operations, according to court documents.
The complaint claims the group is illegally distributing unapproved new drugs with misleading and false labeling and alleges the defendants' products don't contain adequate directions for use. (The website for Genesis' products explains "sacramental dosing" for COVID-19 and provides dosing instructions for adults and children.)
Additionally, prosecutors say, the men shipped MMS from Florida to Virginia in late March, conducting interstate commerce.
U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams on April 17 granted a temporary injunction filed by the prosecution to halt Genesis' online sale of industrial bleach as a miracle cure.
"We will zealously pursue perpetrators of fraud schemes seeking to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic," Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, stated in a press release. "Not only are these products potentially harmful, but their distribution and use may prevent those who are sick from receiving the legitimate healthcare they need."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued public warnings about MMS and similar products.
"If you're drinking 'Miracle' or 'Master' Mineral Solution or other sodium chlorite products, stop now," the FDA's website says.
The substance can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and symptoms of severe dehydration.
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"Some product labels claim that vomiting and diarrhea are common after ingesting the product," the FDA says. "They even maintain that such reactions are evidence that the product is working. That claim is false."
On April 8, the FDA sent the four Grenons a letter warning them that what they were doing was illegal and needed to end. The letter demanded they reply by email within 48 hours and describe what steps they were taking to fix the violations.
Mark Grenon responded with anger.
"We can say cure, heal and treat as a Free church," a Genesis letter to the FDA says. "Don't need your approval or authorization for a Church Sacrament... There will be NO corrective actions on our part... You have no authority over us!... Never going to happen."