WA Notify continues to be a powerful tool to protect Washingtonians against COVID-19

This past April, Sheridan — who lives on her family farm in Snohomish, Washington — made the decision to attend a family wedding in Texas. “I was very careful when traveling — I made sure to wear my mask while in transit and in large gatherings. I’m up to date on my vaccines. I also did a self-test before traveling and right before the wedding to make sure I wasn’t positive. When I arrived back home, I felt fine,” noted Sheridan.

Sheridan on her family farm in Snohomish, Washington.

Shortly after arriving home she received a phone notification from WA Notify, a free application she installed on her smartphone, that she had been exposed to someone with COVID-19. “I forgot I even had the application — I never received a notification before. I already had self-tests on hand and quickly found out I was indeed positive.”

Since the pandemic began, Sheridan and her husband had carefully followed advice from public health officials on how to stop the spread of the virus. But if not for WA Notify, it could have been days before she learned she came back from Texas infected with COVID-19. For Sheridan, this is particularly important as she is at higher risk of developing severe disease and becoming hospitalized from COVID-19.

With the WA Notify alert, she was able to start her isolation to avoid spreading the virus to her husband or any others. “We were supposed to visit my in-laws in Issaquah, Washington that weekend. I wouldn’t have had symptoms at that stage and would have traveled to see them. They both recently recovered from cancer — it would have been devastating to expose them to that.”

In addition to isolating from others, with her test results she was able to anonymously inform other WA Notify users who she had been in close contact with. “The ability to know so quickly that you have been exposed and test right away is so crucial — it is a critical reminder that we are still in this pandemic, and we still need to be careful to help protect those around us.”

As of June 2022, it is estimated that less than 10% of COVID-19 cases are reported in Washington.

By adding WA Notify to your smartphone, you can be notified if you’ve spent time near another WA Notify user who later tests positive. If you test positive (including with a self-test), you can anonymously let other WA Notify users know they may have been exposed — giving them the opportunity to get tested, isolate and help stop the spread of COVID-19.

No location tracking technology is used, so notifications are anonymous. No personal information is shared when you notify others they may have been exposed.

Like Sheridan, you may have forgotten that you have WA Notify on your phone. WA Notify can be easily downloaded on a smartphone, and you can confirm in the settings section if the application is installed and active. As of June 21, 2022, more than 3.34 million people have activated the WA Notify application.

How do I add WA Notify to my phone?
You can scan the QR code below or download WA Notify to your phone. The app is available for both Android and iPhone.

A few days after testing positive, Sheridan’s symptoms began to intensify. She had COVID-19 previously in late 2021 and was very sick for weeks. This time around, she was able to access oral antiviral medication (a type of medication taken by mouth for treating viral infections) through the federal government’s Test to Treat initiative, which eased her symptoms and reduced the risk of hospitalization. Receiving a timely exposure notification through WA Notify also helped her to get this medication, as it must be prescribed by a doctor within 5 days of beginning symptoms.

“I want to express my gratitude for having these free tools available to me. I’ll never really know the detrimental impacts had I passed COVID-19 onto other people in my family or in other parts of my community. Because I was able to access these tools and I didn’t pass on COVID-19 to anyone else — that makes me really grateful.”

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.

WA Notify can send you anonymous alerts you if you’ve been near another user who tested positive for COVID-19. Add WA Notify to your smartphone today: WANotify.org. WA Notify is available in more than 30 languages.

Don’t have a smartphone but are still interested in accessing WA Notify? The federal government’s Lifeline program provides a monthly phone bill credit for those who qualify. Some participating wireless service providers may also provide a free smartphone. Learn more about the program, who qualifies, how to apply and participating wireless providers.

Need free COVID-19 self-test kits? Washingtonians are able to order up to 10 free tests per month via Say Yes! COVID Test.

People who purchase over-the-counter self-test kits and receive a positive result can call the Department of Health call center to officially report these test results. Dial 1–800–525–0127 then press # (press 7 for Spanish). Visit the Contact Us page for hotline hours. Language assistance is available.

Vaccines are the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine is now available to everyone 6 months and older. Find more information about the vaccine and use the vaccine locator tool to find an appointment. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost to you.

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.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Washington State Department of Health

Washington State Department of Health

Protecting and improving the health of people in Washington State.