Worried you’ve been exposed to Covid? Help could be just a swipe away
Covid cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in King County and statewide. After two years of pandemic, and the inevitable onslaught of pandemic fatigue, state officials are urging residents to remain vigilant and to let others know if they test positive. The state has an easy and anonymous way to do that, a smartphone app called WA Notify.
The Washington state Department of Health developed the exposure notification system two years ago, in partnership with University of Washington. It pings your phone if you’ve been in close contact with another WA Notify user who tests positive for Covid-19. Dr. Bryant Karras, chief medical informatics officer and senior epidemiologist for the department, helped develop WA Notify. He said now is not the time to turn the app off.
“It's time to use it even more,” Karras said. ”Because as people are returning to normal, this tool gives you that early warning when you've been exposed.”
WA Notify has been enabled on more than 3.25 million smartphones, according to the Department of Health website. The system allows users to confirm their positive Covid test results, either from lab-confirmed tests or at-home antigen tests, and it keeps user data anonymous.
Once you confirm a positive test, the app anonymously alerts other WA Notify users who’ve been in close proximity to you that they may have been exposed.
“If you unfortunately become positive for Covid, you can easily notify all of the people who you've been in close proximity to, even if they were the person you were sitting next to on the bus, or a Sounders match,” Karras explained.
The service is free and available in over 40 languages to increase access. It’s already integrated into iPhones and just needs to be enabled. Android users can download WA Notify from the App Store.