Opting into the WA Notify system jointly created by Google and Apple will add phone users to what Gov. Jay Inslee Monday called “a simple, anonymous exposure notification tool.”
Iphone users should search for “Exposure Notifications” to enable the system on their phones while Android users can download the app. You can learn more about joining the system here.
Already rolled out in 15 states as of last week, the system has been running as a trial here with students and staff at the University of Washington.
Here’s Geekwire on the technology:
The app takes advantage of low-energy Bluetooth signals emitted by smartphones to detect and remember interactions, allowing people to be notified if they’ve been in proximity to someone who later tests positive for COVID. It does not collect any personal information to identify app users or track their movements.
The key element of the system comes when a WA Notify user becomes ill. If someone tests positive, medical workers will now be able to provide the infected person a code to enter in the app. WA Notify will then alert users about the possible exposure.
The rollout comes as case totals continue to soar and hospitalizations and deaths are beginning to slowly climb. New cases have now dropped to around 550 a day in King County after spiking to near 700.
But experts worry that we’ll see a new run higher after Thanksgiving gatherings.
A new report on exposure in King County shows shows the most commonly reported environments after “household” are “community and social gatherings” followed by “non-healthcare workplace” indicating many people are becoming sick from meeting with people outside their households or going to work.
About 2% of people who have caught the virus have died. So far, King County has lost 858 people to COVID-19 related deaths including two more reported Sunday.
It’s not clear how much of a difference the exposure notifications can make. For one, people will have to act on the information and decide to quarantine if they receive an alert. State officials say an adoption rate of 15% could cut cases by 11% and deaths by as much as 15%.
HELP KEEP CHS 'PAY WHAT YOU CAN' FOR EVERYONE -- SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Join to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.