There is a new way to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Washington — Your smartphone

Washington residents now have a new way to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Washington Exposure Notifications — WA Notify — is a completely private feature on smartphones that can inform people if they have been exposed to COVID-19 by another user who later tests positive. You can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by adding WA Notify to your phone today. Studies show that the more people who use it, the more effective it is.

WaNotify Hand holding phone

Governor Jay Inslee announced the launch of this important new tool on November 30. WA Notify can be enabled on your iPhone or downloaded as an app for your Android phone. It could tell you if you’ve been exposed to COVID. And if you test positive for COVID, it can alert other WA Notify users you may have exposed, without revealing any personal information. WA Notify lets users get the care they need quickly and helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others.

WA Notify complements actions we are already taking, like wearing masks, physical distancing and not gathering with those outside our homes. Data models for three counties in Washington show that COVID-19 infections and deaths could be reduced, even if a small percentage of people enabled WA Notify.

We want WA Notify to help as many people and protect as many communities as possible in Washington state, so we launched the tool in 29 languages and made information available for seven additional languages not supported on smartphones.

Wondering about privacy with WA Notify? Well, the tool can’t share data on your activity with anyone, because it doesn’t collect it in the first place. WA Notify doesn’t need to know who you are or where you go to work effectively. Before launching WA Notify, Washington state received a recommendation to adopt the technology from an oversight committee which included security and civil liberties experts and community leaders representing communities of color, individuals with disabilities, and other communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Several states including Virginia, New York and Colorado are using similar technology, as are Ireland, Canada and Germany.

  1. First, you add WA Notify to your phone.
  2. Then if you happen to be near someone else who has WA Notify, both of your phones use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to exchange random, anonymous codes.
  3. If someone who has WA Notify on their phone tests positive for COVID and public health reaches out to them, they are given a verification code.
  4. When they enter that code in WA Notify, anyone they were near in the last two weeks for a significant period of time who also has WA Notify will get an anonymous alert that they may have been exposed. Entering the code is completely voluntary.
  5. If you test positive, you would enter your verification code in WA Notify to anonymously notify anyone you were near.

You can also view the WA Notify Flow Chart (PDF).

This process is completely anonymous. No one knows who gets notified when a verification code is entered.

This is something everyone with a smartphone can do. So please, activate WA Notify today.

More information

Stay tuned to our blog for more information on how you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Sign up to be notified whenever we post new articles.

Information in this blog changes rapidly. Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov.

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state may be found at our website. You can also contact our the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday — Friday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday — Sunday. Language assistance is available.

Please note that this call center cannot access COVID-19 testing results. For testing inquiries or results, please contact your health care provider.

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