WA Notify saved lives, officials say

The Washington State Department of Health reported Wednesday that its COVID-19 exposure notification tool saved an estimated 30-120 lives and likely prevented about 6,000 cases during its first four months while in use.

Researchers at the University of Washington and the DOH released the results on Monday after conducting a modeling study of the tool.

Since Nov. 30, 2020, more than 2 million people have enabled WA Notify since it launched, according to a release.

The tool sends alerts to people who could have been exposed to the virus.

“The goal for exposure notification is to help more people get the information and care they need more quickly so they can avoid spreading COVID-19 to others,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary of COVID-19 Response at DOH. “We are thrilled to see how well it has worked so far.”

“It’s incredibly exciting to now have some preliminary evidence of the value of WA Notify and to have a new tool to add to our public health toolbox for managing pandemics,” said Janet G. Baseman, professor and associate dean at the University of Washington School of Public Health.

During the study period from Nov. 30, 2020, to March 31, 2021, DOH documented nearly 200,000 new cases, more than 8,500 hospitalizations and nearly 2,500 deaths, which was the highest volume of case investigation in the state. According to officials, having this tool helped protect people from the virus.

The state added that more than 14,000 users received a positive COVID-19 test and anonymously alerted others using the app.