There is no cure for COVID-19. There is also no FDA-approved medicine that prevents the virus.
But that hasn't stopped a former Chicago woman from touting a bleach mixture as a "simple, cheap, and widely available compound" that she contends will help prevent infection with the virus, and "assist someone's healing if you know of anyone who has symptoms."
NBC 5 Investigates first reported on Kerri Rivera's "Miracle Mineral Solution" or MMS, in June of 2015. The mixture produces an industrial bleach called chlorine dioxide which experts argue is highly toxic. Rivera promoted the substance in a book as a cure for autism. But after our initial reports five years ago, then-attorney general Lisa Madigan barred her from promoting her "cure" in Illinois.
Now, operating online from Germany, Rivera is touting MMS as a miracle treatment regimen for the coronavirus.
"I feel it is my sacred duty to spread this information," Rivera says in an online "Coronavirus Rescue Handbook" posted on her website. "This chemical solution is available without a prescription and in countries worldwide."
The problem is MMS has never been approved to treat anything and has been derided by many experts and the FDA as a highly toxic, even poisonous chemical.
"It's an industrial chemical -- it's a bleach," Dr. Karl Scheidt, a chemist with Northwestern University told NBC 5 Investigates in 2015. "I would say it would be incredibly dangerous for anyone to ingest this, much less a child!"
Indeed, last week the FDA went to court in Florida, obtaining a temporary restraining order against a self-styled "church" which has been promoting MMS as a cure-all sacrament for years.
The "Genesis II Church of Health and Healing" was previously headed by a man named Jim Humble, who once said he was a billion-year-old god from the Andromeda galaxy. Rivera was closely aligned with Humble and his movement in touting MMS and its curative powers.
Like Rivera, the organization's current "archbishop" Mark Grenon has been pushing the bleach solution as a wonder drug for treating COVID-19. And in court documents, the FDA said Grenon's claims are neither approved nor backed up by proven science.
"The coronavirus is curable, can you believe it?" the FDA quotes Grenon. "It's wicked good stuff."
FDA attorneys said they warned Grenon in an April 8 letter that he and his "church" were distributing unapproved and misbranded drugs. But they said they were met with defiance.
"We are not under your authority in regard to your agencies," Grenon is quoted in the FDA filing. "We can say cure, heal, and treat as a Free Church. Don't need your approval or authorization."
Federal Judge Kathleen Williams issued the temporary order blocking Genesis II from further distributing MMS. A hearing on the matter is set for May 1.
For a woman named Fiona O'Leary, who has been battling the MMS movement for years, none of this comes as a surprise.
"We're literally battling a huge sea of quacks right now!" O'Leary says.
From her home in Ireland, O'Leary has made repeated attempts to silence Rivera and the Genesis II movement from promoting what she argues is nothing more than poison.
"It's not just happening in America -- it's happening all over the world, even here in Ireland," she told NBC 5. "I've actually seen it on the autism MMS groups -- saying that the kids are going to be protected because they're on the bleach already -- autistic kids won't get COVID-19. It's absolutely criminal!"
Angry at the actions of the FDA, Grenon, the Genesis II leader, said in an online posting that he wrote President Trump to extol MMS and expose the government's excesses in pursuing him.
"It seems if you mention anything can rid the body of COVID-19 not approved by the FDA, you get attacked," he said.
Last week, President Trump surprised many when he publicly speculated about injecting "disinfectants" as a potential coronavirus treatment. O'Leary said she was shocked.
"I'm worried that it's going to give a new green light to the Genesis II, more people abused and experimented on, because the president thinks it's alright to inject a disinfectant into your body," she said. "It's absolutely insane!"
She noted that the president had previously shown sympathy for discredited "studies" tying vaccinations to autism, and that those views closely aligned with the Genesis II worldview.
"They're anti-vaccine, they don't want people to take the vaccine once it's out," she said. "They think the bleach will do that!"
In their motion, the FDA made clear they believe MMS is unproven and dangerous.
"Defendant conduct, especially during the current national emergency and pandemic, presents a clear danger to public health and safety," the agency said.
As far as Genesis II's overtures to the president, there is no evidence Trump or his advisors ever saw the letter. But O'Leary believes if nothing else, his recent remarks have given dangerous credence to Rivera and Genesis II's claims.
"The Genesis II and these bleachers have that," she said. "Trump did that. We can never undo that. The damage is done. And I will never forgive him for that!"
Rivera and Grenon did not respond to NBC 5 inquiries seeking comment.