Lexington company promoting COVID-killing technology adds Trump’s CDC director to team

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Jeremy Chisenhall
·2 min read
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One of the nation’s highest-ranking medical experts under former President Donald Trump has found a new role as an adviser to a Lexington company that says its products are fighting COVID-19.

Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from March 2018 until earlier this year, has joined the advisory board of Big Ass Fans. He will be a strategic health and safety adviser, the company said. The Lexington-based company says its Clean Air System products have “proven air disinfection technologies.”

The fans are often used in warehouses, factories, commercial spaces and homes, according to the company.

Prior to his time as the CDC director, Redfield worked at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and co-founded the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Redfield has also served in several prominent advisory roles for major national institutions.

The company’s CEO, Lennie Rhoades, said in a statement Redfield’s history as a medical expert would allow him to lend “a wealth of knowledge to allow us to continue to innovate and pioneer solutions for our customers.”

Redfield has faced criticism over comments made about COVID-19. The 69-year-old virologist was scrutinized for telling CNN he believed COVID-19 came from a lab in China without providing any evidence.

Scientists didn’t like Redfield’s attempt to jump to a conclusion.

Big Ass Fans brings Redfield on after making efforts to use their clean air systems to fight COVID-19. The company says its fans with air disinfection technology can be used to solve poor indoor air quality.

Last summer, Lexington restaurant Bear & The Butcher used ultraviolet lights and fans sourced from Big Ass Fans to allegedly purify the air and then push that air back into the dining area.

“This is state of the art stuff,” Glenn Cox, general manager of the restaurant, said in July. “We’re sort of the maiden voyage of doing this.”

According to Big Ass Fans, the mixing of air from higher points and lower points in the restaurant will allow for thorough reduction of pathogens in the air, making it cleaner. The company says its clean air system can kill 99.9 percent of SARS-COV-2 and other pathogens.

But the fans aren’t cheap. The top price of a fan on the company’s website is over $9,000, and some of the company’s products don’t have listed prices.

Some are skeptical of the numbers. Timothy Bertram, a chemistry professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison, said a company touting an effectiveness rate of 99.9 percent was a “red flag,” according to the Daily Beast.

But some other companies are using technology similar to what Big Ass Fans touts. Swiss airplanes are testing UV light robots to kill viruses on planes.