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State health department will text you if you test positive for COVID-19

UPDATED: Thu., Jan. 14, 2021

 (Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)
(Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)

The Department of Health will text you if you test positive for COVID-19 now, with a link to notify others through the state’s WA Notify program.

The program, called “Exposure Notifications” on some phones, enables users to alert others they have been near in the most recent 14 days that they have the coronavirus, so that those who were exposed can know to get tested.

The program uses scrambled, unique keys instead of identifying information from a person’s phones. If two keys match, a person can be alerted to their exposure. To date, nearly 1.68 million Washington residents have opted into the program.

Residents do not have to click the link or opt into the WA Notify program, but the text messages sent from the Department are taken from information provided when a person is tested.

As COVID-19 cases again appear to be increasing in many parts of the state, rebounding after a relative holiday lull, the app could provide exposure news for those who might not otherwise know they could now carry the virus.

Virus transmission remains high in the Inland Northwest, and hospitalizations remain flat.

On Thursday, the Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 343 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the county total for cases over the 31,000 mark.

Seven more Spokane County residents have died from the virus, bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Spokane County to 440.

There are 121 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Spokane hospitals, but the county breakdown of those hospitalized is unavailable.

The Panhandle Health District confirmed 216 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, in addition to one more death. In the five-county North Idaho region, 202 people have died from the virus in the pandemic.

There are 75 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus; 72 of them are being treated at Kootenai Health.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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