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New texts from state DOH aim to speed up COVID-19 exposure notification

Starting this week, the Washington State Department of Health will be texting a verification code to every person in the state who tests positive for COVID-19.

The state hopes the new system will lead to faster notification for people who have been exposed to COVID-19. Currently, the verification code is provided by public health during the case investigation process, but texting it within 24 hours after the state receives the result should make the notification process faster.

People who test positive for COVID-19 will still receive notification from their health care provider or a testing facility. In addition, everyone who tests positive will now also receive a text from the state DOH. The text will include a link to activate a verification code in WA Notify, which will then anonymously alert users who may have been exposed.

The text message will look like this:

“Adoption of exposure notification technology has been strong in Washington state, so I’m pleased we’re able to make this improvement to get verification codes to WA Notify users faster,” said Lacy Fahrenbach, deputy secretary for COVID-19 response. “The earlier someone is notified of a possible exposure, the more quickly they can take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and potentially save lives.”

The text from the DOH will also include a link to help you activate WA Notify if you have not done so already. If you aren’t using WA Notify, you can disregard the message.

Washington launches statewide COVID-19 exposure notification tool

According to a release from the state DOH, nearly 1.66 million people have activated WA Notify since Nov. 30, 2020. WA Notify is available in more than 29 languages. It uses privacy-preserving technology developed by Google and Apple and “works without collecting or revealing any location or personal data.” Users are able to opt out at any time.

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