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Gov. Inslee outlines state’s contact tracing system

Gov. Inslee outlines challenges in Phase Two on Tuesday, May 12. (TVW)

Gov. Inslee on Tuesday outlined the steps and challenges for Washington state’s contact tracing system.

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“In some sense, this next stage, the testing, contact tracing, and isolation effort will be more difficult,” Inslee said.

The governor showed off many graphics to help explain, with the goal of “boxing in the virus.”

“Box in the Virus”
1. Quarantine upon first symptoms
2. Test widely
3. Isolate quickly
4. Identify contacts
5. Quarantine contacts

The governor has said that beefing up contact tracing is a key step in reopening Washington’s economy. He said the state is working on that now with over 1,300 contact tracers made up of the National Guard, Department of Licensing, and local health officials. They expect to have the system implemented by the end of the week.

The idea is to contact people who have tested positive to find out who they’ve come into contact with. Those people will be contacted within 48 hours, and be asked to quarantine until they’re tested and confirmed negative.


Inslee’s office added that contact tracing is voluntary.

“We’re only contacting people who have agreed to be contacted, and a person can end the phone call at any time,” said Lt. Col. Steve Hobbs, of the Washington Army National Guard.


While voluntary, new requirements for restaurants include compiling data about patrons, including noting names, emails, and phone numbers to help assist contact tracing efforts.

“We think of this as a smart weapon against this virus,” Inslee said.

The governor maintained that people should continue to social distance themselves and self quarantine if they suspect they have coronavirus and especially if they’re showing symptoms or test positive — for at least 14 days. Families or people in the same household should also self-quarantine for 14 days as the virus is known to quickly spread across households.

Watch the governor’s full press conference on

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