The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is celebrating a successful year of WA Notify, the state’s exposure notification app. More than 2.62 million people have enabled it—accounting for more than 43% of all smartphone users in the state.
“WA Notify has been a very successful innovation for our state, and we’re proud of the team at the Department of Health who helped create a tech-based solution that contributed to the greater good as we fought—and continue to fight—this pandemic,” said Washington state Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah.
The WA Notify app does not collect data about who the users are, where they go, or who they are near.
It uses privacy-preserving technology jointly developed by Google and Apple, with technical assistance and evaluation by the University of Washington.
“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 M.D., Chief Informatics Officer at the Department of Health. “You only receive a notification if there is an exposure. So, no news is good news.”
Everyone who receives an exposure notification is provided guidance about what to do next based on their vaccination status and whether or not they are experiencing symptoms. This guidance is updated to align with current DOH guidance. Notifications do not contain any information about who tested positive or where the exposure may have happened.
WA Notify can be enabled in iPhone settings (iPhone 5s or newer using iOS 12.5 or higher) or downloaded as an app from the Google Play Store for Android phones. Users can opt out at any time. WA Notify is available in more than 30 languages so as many Washington residents as possible can access this tool.
“We are so proud of how quickly people in Washington adopted this valuable tool,” said 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.”
To learn more, visit WANotify.org.
This health series is made possible by funding from the Washington State Department of Health, which has no editorial input or oversight of this content.