EDITOR’S NOTE: This page is a guide to the months of USA TODAY investigation into Utah-based Nomi Health, the untendered contracts it has received and the questions officials raised on the accuracy of his tests and his contributions to the campaign.
As of early 2020, hardly anyone outside of Silicon Slopes, an influential and well-connected business group in Salt Lake City, had ever heard of Nomi Health. Yet as the COVID-19 pandemic endangered American lives and threatened to crater the economy, the startup quickly became a household name in Utah and several other Republican-controlled states as it oversaw massive testing programs.
USA TODAY has been investigating the company since March.
In 2019, Utah entrepreneur Mark Newman founded Nomi Health, which he says gets its name from “Nope MidBoy Healthcare. He previously created an on-demand video interview service, and Nomi was among four politically well-connected Utah companies that came together as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened in March 2020. Nomi would act primarily as a general contractor for the business, setting up testing sites, hiring nurses and staff, and purchasing testing equipment.
Nomi would use COVID-19 tests provided by Co-Diagnostics, a molecular testing company that had “no major customers” in 2019, according to the company’s annual report. The Utah team was complemented by two software companies – Domo and Qualtrics – which provided electronic dashboards and test surveys.
Within a month – March 31 to May 1, 2020 – Nomi had signed non-tender contracts in four states and would later win additional state contracts through the traditional competitive procurement process. By the time Florida arrived a year later, taxpayers in those states would pay Nomi a collective $219 million, records show.
The Tennessee Department of Health reported that Nomi Health’s test results were “inconsistent” and it spent nearly $6 million to terminate its contract with the company about 45 days after signing it. Nomi officials said the money was paid for the services provided. USA TODAY found that the Tennessee Public Health Lab concluded the state had “no confidence” that the tests would “provide reliable and reproductive results.” Additionally, the state “reasonably determined” that the actions of Nomi and its contractors “endangered, or could reasonably be expected to endanger, life, health, or safety.” Nomi officials did not say whether they released the report to other states despite multiple attempts by USA TODAY to get them to answer the question. Nomi said his tests went as they were supposed to.
Shortly after the Tennessee Department of Health accepted a $26.5 million no-tender contract with Nomi, the company sent personal protective equipment to the state. A health official had hoped to receive thousands of gown sleeves, masks and sanitizer for frontline medical workers. Instead, Nomi sent thousands of pink bovine insemination gloves, wipes labeled “for veterinary use” that didn’t kill the COVID-19 virus, and shoddy face masks, the official said. Tennessee terminated his contract early and paid Nomi nearly $6 million. The state also said Nomi failed to supply appropriate laboratory machinery and personal protective equipment “without material defect.” Newman, the general manager of Nomi, did not dispute that Tennessee received bovine gloves, saying they were a supplement to other appropriate supplies.
After Republican governors awarded lucrative, no-tender COVID-19 deals to Nomi, the company and a contractor, Domo, donated more than $1 million to GOP campaigns, with contributions to six figures going to the Republican Governors Association and five figure contributions. to declare GOP campaigns. Some of the largest contributions have gone to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, whose administration awarded Nomi contracts totaling $46.5 million from February to June 2021. While Nomi Health has grown to Hawaii, the company, its chief executive and other associates in the Utah businesses donated the maximum amount, or near the legal limit, to Democratic campaigns in the politically blue state.