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Retraction: Sema4 did not breach contract to provide COVID testing

A Sema4 office building in Branford.
Yehyun Kim
A Sema4 office in Branford.

A story published by the CT Mirror on May 11 about Sema4 and its COVID-19 testing contract with the state of Connecticut contained a number of errors.

Sema4 was one of several contractors that responded to a request for proposals for COVID-19 testing that the state issued in June 2021. The master contract stated that testing could be needed through June 30, 2022.

But the state Department of Public Health’s agreements for COVID-19 testing with Sema4 — as defined in “statements of work,” or “SOWs,” that were separate from the master contract — were set to expire at the end of December 2021, not in June 2022, as the CT Mirror incorrectly reported.

Sema4 notified the state via email on Dec. 15 that it was ceasing its COVID-19 testing work, continued to work through December and agreed to continue testing through January 2022. It did not breach its contract, according to state officials who clarified the agreements to the CT Mirror on Thursday.

Accordingly, the state of Connecticut would have had no reason to claim a breach or end its payments to the company for work it performed. The CT Mirror incorrectly reported otherwise in Wednesday’s story.

The CT Mirror sought comment from DPH in recent days, asking why the state didn’t withhold payments to Sema4 if the company had breached its contract with the state.

The DPH’s response was: “DPH accepted the email from SEMA-4 as the written notice pursuant to the contract and negotiated that SEMA-4 stay on until Jan. 31, 2022.”

On Thursday, the state Department of Public Health issued an additional statement to The Mirror.

“The SOW between DPH and SEMA4 to conduct state supported testing at 12 sites was effective August 31 to December 31, 2021 (“initial SOW”). The initial SOWs with all the vendors providing state supported testing ended on December 31, 2021. On or around late November 2021, with demand for community testing on the rise, DPH began working with the various vendors providing state supporting testing to negotiate amendments to their SOWs to extend the service period to June 30, 2022. On or around the third week of December, SEMA4 confirmed via email to and in discussions with DPH that it would be ending its state supported testing work on December 31, 2021, the end date for the initial SOW, and would not be interested in an amendment extending their services through June 30, 2022. Since the state was coincidentally experiencing a significant surge in COVID (“Omicron surge”) at the time of SEMA4’s announcement, DPH negotiated with SEMA4 to continue its services for an additional month through January 31, 2022, so that DPH could arrange coverage by other vendors and amend their respective SOWs accordingly. DPH and SEMA4 executed an amendment to the initial SOW (“Amended SOW”) which extended SEMA4’s services to the state through January 31, 2022. DPH successfully secured alternate vendors for all SEMA4 state supporting testing sites on or before the end of January 2022,” the statement reads, in part.

“SEMA4’s initial SOW with DPH contractually ended on December 31, 2022. SEMA4 was not in breach of the initial SOW, so DPH has processed payments for work SEMA4 completed under that SOW. The Amended SOW with SEMA4 ran through January 31, 2022, and SEMA4 continued to perform appropriately under the Amended SOW, and DPH continues to process payments for this work as well,” it continues.

“The Department of Administrative Services (“DAS”) which issued the Master Contract has confirmed that as Sema4 completed the work required under the SOW as amended, there was no breach of the Master Contract,” it continues.

On Thursday, Sema4 issued a statement to the CT Mirror:

“Soon after the onset of the pandemic, Sema4 invested significant resources to answer the call to help the people of Connecticut. Quickly, we developed an end-to-end COVID-19 testing solution that addressed the State’s acute need for greater capacity for accurate and accessible testing with suitable turnaround times. We firmly believe this was the right thing to do and were glad to support the Connecticut communities in which we work and live.

“We partnered closely with the State of Connecticut over these last couple of years and our departure from COVID-19 testing this past January was compliant with all contractual obligations. Administering hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 tests from 2020 until the end of January 2022 at the request of the Department of Public Health, we carefully and collaboratively wound down our offerings without disrupting the State’s ability to administer testing, prior to rededicating our resources to Sema4’s original core business. Any subsequent payments Sema4 received, or that we have yet to receive from the State, are for tests already performed for Connecticut residents several months ago and pursuant to invoices that we have provided to the State.”

The CT Mirror regrets the errors.

Note: This story from the CT Mirror is an update to a previous story published earlier on CTPublic.org.

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