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Answer the call to stop the spread | Guest column

Submitted by the Washington State Department of Health

We have all the tools we need to stop the spread of COVID-19. We just need your help! Here are two important things you can do to help stop the spread.

The actual phone call. When you answer a phone call from public health, you help us figure out what we need to do next to control COVID-19. You help us follow up with people who may be at high risk of spreading COVID-19, and you help us determine when it is safe to return to public life. Talk to the health department, answer their questions, and follow their guidance. They’re good people trying to stop a pandemic and open up our economy. Help them out!

If you get a call from the Washington State Department of Health, you will know it is us because we show up as “WA HEALTH” on your caller ID. Here’s where it gets tricky, though — you may be called by your local health department, and they may show up on your phone in a variety of ways. If you don’t answer, they will leave you a voicemail. Please call them back as soon as possible. They have good advice for you and they called you in particular because they need your help to stop the spread of COVID-19 in your community.

Remember — contact tracers will never ask for your immigration status, Social Security number, financial information, or marital status.

Add WA Notify to your phone

WA Notify is a new tool that uses our smartphones to let us know if we may have been exposed to COVID-19. It doesn’t share or save any personal information. When you enable WA Notify, your phone exchanges random, anonymous codes with the phones of people you are near who have also enabled WA Notify. It does this without revealing any information about you.

Imagine that you are in a long line at the grocery story. The person behind you in line finds out later today that they have COVID-19. Because they use WA Notify, public health can give them an anonymous code to put into the app. When they do that, and if you have WA Notify on your phone, you will get an anonymous notification that you’ve had a possible exposure. This lets you take immediate action to protect the people around you from getting sick.

The more of us who have this tool on our phones, the more infections and deaths we can prevent! Visit WANotify.org for instructions to enable the app on your iPhone or to download the app for your Android device.