Illustration of person holding a phone with a QR code. It reads “2.6 million people enabled WA Notify. How about you? WANotify.org”

A life-saving tool celebrates its first year

Millions of WA Notify users help stop the spread of COVID-19

If you’re one of the millions of people in our state who are using WA Notify, thank you! You’ve taken an important step to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

If you’re not using it yet, read on for reasons why you should consider using this life-saving tool.

When the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) launched WA Notify on Nov. 30, 2020, we hoped that at least 900,000 people would add the free alert to their smartphones, which notifies them if they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Within 72 hours of the launch, more than 1 million people had signed up.

A year later, 2.64 million people have enabled the app — that’s more than 43 percent of all smartphone users in the state!

On the one-year anniversary of WA Notify, tech experts explain why they think it’s been such a success.

But COVID-19 is still spreading, and new variants are looming. That’s why it’s important that as many people as possible use this key technology.

“WA Notify has been a very successful innovation for our state, and we’re proud of the team who helped create a tech-based solution that contributed to the greater good as we continue to fight this pandemic,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health.

How it works: “No news is good news”

“If another WA Notify user you’ve been near in the last two weeks later tests positive for COVID-19 and follows the steps to anonymously notify others, you’ll get a notification on your phone that you’ve had a possible exposure,” said Bryant Thomas Karras MD, chief informatics officer at DOH. “You only receive a notification if there is an exposure. So, no news is good news.”

WA Notify protects the privacy of its users while giving them the power to protect their health. It doesn’t collect any data about who the users are, where they go, or who they are near. The app uses privacy-preserving technology developed by Google and Apple, with technical support from the University of Washington. WA Notify works in the background of your phone and uses only tiny bursts of Bluetooth, to avoid impacting your battery.

You can read more about how it works in our previous blog post, and visit WANotify.org to see how easy it is to add WA Notify to your smartphone.

The WA Notify team continues to improve the tool as the pandemic evolves.

“We are so proud of how quickly people in Washington adopted this valuable tool,” said Secretary Shah. “If you haven’t activated WA Notify yet, please consider doing so. It’s one more way to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community from COVID-19.”

More information

This blog is accurate as of the date of posting. Information changes rapidly, so check the state’s COVID-19 website for the most up-to-date info at coronavirus.wa.gov. You can also sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to everyone 5 and older. For more information about the vaccine, visit CovidVaccineWA.org and use the vaccine locator tool to find an appointment. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost to you.

WA Notify can alert you if you’ve been near another user who tested positive for COVID-19. Add WA Notify to your phone today: WANotify.org

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington State may be found at our website. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.

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