New app helps notify of COVID-19 exposure
Last updated 12/1/2020 at 9:38pm
A new phone app is available for users to quickly learn about COVID-19 exposures.
WA Notify is an automatic tracing app, for COVID-19 that was announced by Gov. Jay Inslee Nov. 30. It allows the user to find out if COVID-19 exposure occurred but does not ask for any personal information, according to https://wanotify.uw.edu/FAQ.html.
Using Bluetooth Low Energy technology, it detects when in close proximity to other users, and will notify on an exposure to COVID-19. The information allows the receiver of that information to quarantine and get any necessary care, quickly, and is intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
It works by exchanging "tokens" which are random codes that trade exposure information, informing about close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, within the past two weeks. The app's website says it is not a "contact tracing" tool, as it does not track or trace information about the people in contact with a person who is exposed. As such, it is described as private. Only people with the WA Notify app learn if they were exposed, the site says.
Contact tracing is different than exposure information, because it is more thorough. Contact tracing works like a virus does by notifying all the people who have been in contact with an exposed person. WA Notify just tells the person with the app if a nearby person -- who has the app -- has been exposed. An exposure occurs when a person is in contact with an infected individual for a period of time.
To reduce exposure to potentially infected individuals, officials recommend outdoor contact be favored, and when indoors people stay six feet apart and remain masked. The app is available at https://bit.ly/3g4kpAR