Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee revealed his new exposure tool today at a news conference for those who want to assist in stopping the spread of COVID-19. The app is called WA Notify and it's described as a "simple, anonymous exposure notification tool" for your smartphone or mobile device that will alert you if you've spent time near another WA Notify user who later tests positive for COVID-19.

WA Notify is free and is said to be "secure, private and anonymous." The service can be enabled in your iPhone settings, it's under "exposure notifications." Go here if you'd like a tutorial for your Apple device. Android phones can download the app from the Google Play Store for Android phones. For Android devices, it's called the Washington Exposure Notification.

Washington joins more than a dozen other states that have already enlisted the use of smartphone technology in the on-going effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Use of the app is completely voluntary and users may opt out at any time. According to a pilot project, 3,500 people used the app for a month in our state including students, faculty and staff at the University of Washington.

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Bluetooth wireless technology is used to detect when someone who downloaded the app has spent time near another app user who later tests positive for the virus. Phones using WA Notify exchange random codes, which officials said are completely anonymous, with no location tracking or exchange of personal information.


When someone tests positive for the virus, a health official will ask them if they have WA Notify and will give them a verification code, which is not tied to their identity, to enter into the app. Once entered, the app determines if users have been near the person and subsequently will notify them of a possible exposure.

No information about who may have exposed them or where the exposure may have occurred is included in the notification. The notification will direct people to a website to get more information on the next step in the process including how and where to get tested.

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