Fresno church hoping new technology helps in court case to end COVID-related religious restrictions

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno church has new technology it hopes can help win a court case and end coronavirus restrictions on indoor worship in California.

Cornerstone Church has followed a couple big universities, major sports teams, and the city of Vail by investing in a bio-defense system touted as a coronavirus stop sign.

California currently allows churches to have indoor services, but only at 25% capacity in purple and red tiers.

Cornerstone is fighting in federal court to expand access.

"While we believe churches should be open, we do not deny the reality of the virus," said Pastor Jim Franklin. "We've been seeking measures to keep the people who attend Cornerstone Church as safe as possible while allowing them to exercise their freedom of religion. We believe we have now found the way to do that."

The judge in Cornerstone's case has ruled in favor of the state so far, but Pastor Jim Franklin is hoping dry hydrogen peroxide, or DHP, changes the equation.

Testing conducted by the company that makes it showed the product is highly effective at reducing the levels of microorganisms, including coronaviruses.

Franklin hopes it can clear the way for fully reopening churches.

"Because if we're really wanting to keep people safe, if that's our whole purpose in doing what we're doing with masks and social distancing, anything we can do to add to that - another layer of biodefense - then that should bring the threshold down that it's safer then," he said.

Cornerstone started using DHP two weeks ago, but Kansas State University, the University of Oklahoma, and the Los Angeles Dodgers have used it for months.

All of them have had coronavirus outbreaks even after installing the technology.

Legal analyst Tony Capozzi says Franklin will need strong evidence to convince the judge to end California's restrictions.

"The pastor's going to have to bring experts in to show that this dry hydrogen peroxide will prevent any spread of the virus whatsoever," he said. "If he can do that, these restrictions would probably be lifted."

In the end, Capozzi says the vaccine rollout means the lawsuit may be moot because the public health threat may be much smaller before the case goes to trial.
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