Digital Responses to COVID-19 | Ongoing Updates

Check here for ongoing updates about the ways businesses and brands are jumping into action doing everything they can to provide support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has caused unprecedented disruptions to most human activity. This has positioned many businesses and brands to provide help, big or small, to those around them. We will be tracking the ways these companies are using their digital capabilities to take action.

This will be updated on a daily basis as news develops. We will keep the most recent stories at the top of the page. If you have news to share, please reach out to

March 26, 2020

H-E-B Partners With Favor to Deliver Seniors Groceries For Free 

Need to Know 

  • Grocery giant H-E-B partners up with delivery app Favor to help seniors place same-day grocery orders


Texas-based grocery giant H-E-B is supporting seniors during the coronavirus crisis with a new personal shopping hotline. Customers over 60 can call the senior support phone line, staffed with volunteers from 11 AM to 3 PM, to place a same-day delivery order. 

Built-in partnership with delivery app Favor, the system allows volunteer personal shoppers to place orders remotely from anywhere in Texas. A “runner” will then personally pick up and deliver the groceries to the customer’s doorsteps within a few hours, without making personal contact. Tech-savvy seniors can also place their orders online through the Favor app or website. Deliveries are free and the grocery charge includes a $10 tip for the runner. 

PayPal Offers Its Support to Businesses, Customers, and Employees

Need to Know 

  • PayPal is supporting all branches of its ecosystem with business financing, additional customer service support, and a remote work structure


PayPal is helping out all members of its community amidst the COVID-19 pandemic by providing support to retailers, customers, and employees. 

In a statement, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman said any business on the PayPal platform that is experiencing “unusual pressure” on their cash flow will have access to its business financing solutions. PayPal’s help center will support any customers who are struggling to pay their monthly PayPal bill or have concerns about sending money overseas to family members. PayPal is also protecting its employees from COVID-19 transmission by implementing a new remote work structure. 

“This is an unprecedented time in our history,” said Schulman. “As we all continue to navigate through these unique and evolving challenges, we want you to know that PayPal is here for you.”

Apple to Donate 10M Face Masks to Healthcare Workers 

Need to Know

  • Apple will donate over 10 million masks to the medical community in the U.S. and Europe 


In a video message shot from his home, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the tech giant has sourced and will be donating 10 million masks to the medical community in the United States and millions more in Europe. 

Apple joins a number of other tech companies and corporations stepping up to help out amid a worldwide shortage as COVID-19 spreads around the world. Said Cook, “These people deserve our debt of gratitude for all of the work they’re doing on the front lines.”

March 25, 2020

Microsoft Prioritizes Cloud Access for First Responders

Need to Know

  • To help deal with the capacity issues on its cloud-based Team Services network Microsoft will prioritize access to first responders and critical infrastructure. 
  • Microsoft has also announced partnerships with governments around the world to ensure local data centers are staffed and able to provide cloud services. 
  • Microsoft reported 32 million daily active Teams users week on March 11th, but to 44 million daily active users a few days later – causing strain on its network. 


With many businesses turning to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft’s cloud-based Team service is feeling the pressure after a surge of nearly 40% – they now have nearly 44 million users on its Team services. 

To avoid impacting existing customers while managing new demand Microsoft has prioritized access to first responders, emergency services, and critical infrastructure should capacity issues arise. 

Brewery BrewDog Creates Online Community with 102 “Virtual Bars”

Need to Know

  • BrewDog is set to open 102 new virtual bars after bars and pubs around the world have been forced to close to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
  • The brewery and pub hopes to replicate the experience of its bars and help its customers socialize. 
  • Every BrewDog location in BrewDog bar in the UK, Germany, Australia, and the USA will have its own virtual Bar online session and be open to anyone over the age of 18.


While many around the globe around themselves self-isolating to stop the spread of the coronavirus, craft beer maker and pub chain BrewDog aims to help its community feel less isolated with “virtual bars” 

Each BrewDog location around the world will host its own online session and be open to anyone over the age of 18. In addition to conversation and virtual cheers, the sessions will feature guest breweries, online tastings, games, and entertainment. 

Details on how and where to join a BrewDog virtual bar near you will be announced via the beer makers’ social media channels. 

Telehealth Startup Kry, Launches Free Video Consultation Service for Doctors During COVID-19

Need to Know

  • Swedish telehealth startup Kry has launched a remote consultations tool for healthcare professionals to help support the heavily burdened global healthcare system.
  • Care Connect by Kry is launching initially in Europe and throughout North America “in a matter of days” and will allow healthcare professionals to carry out encrypted video consultations. 


Swedish startup Kry launched its own remote video consultations tool to help healthcare professionals and patients struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Care Connect by Kry’s web-based platform will not require users to create a Kry account. After doctors sign in with an email address, they are able to send a one-time SMS link to a patient’s mobile phone number. By clicking on the link, the patient initiates the video consultation with the doctor directly on their smartphone. 

The web-based platform is available now in the UK, but doctors and patients in North America will be able to utilize Care Connect by Kry in the next few days.

March 24, 2020

Fashion Giant H&M to Provide Hospitals in Need With Medical Supplies

Need to Know

  • H&M will leverage its massive supply chain network to provide hospitals with key supplies
  • The fashion brand will start by sourcing masks, gloves, and hospital gowns 


H&M will be using its extensive supply chain network to provide key supplies during the coronavirus pandemic. The fashion giant will source materials to provide hospitals with the most needed supplies, which could include masks, gloves, and hospital gowns. 

“The EU has asked us to share our purchasing operations and logistics capabilities in order to source supplies, but in this urgent initial phase, we will donate the supplies,” an H&M spokeswoman said. H&M will prioritize sending supplies to the areas with the largest need. 

FutureProof Retail to Donate Mobile Checkout Technology to Allow for Safer Grocery Shopping

Need to Know

  • FutureProof Retail is donating its mobile checkout technology to grocery stores and pharmacies who need it, allowing for safer checkouts that make it easier to practice social distancing


FutureProof Retail, a company that develops eCommerce checkout technology, is donating its line-free mobile checkout technology to grocery stores, pharmacies, and supermarkets who need it. This technology will allow users to shop and check out while still practicing social distancing. Customers can scan and pay for items using their own phones, removing the need for cashiers to handle items or for customers to wait in long lines. 

“Because of its potential public health benefits, we are offering our basic service for free during the current state of emergency,” FutureProof Retail CEO Will Hogben says. “The more stores we can enable, the more people will avoid checkout lines, reducing stress on the stores and community.” 

Amazon Drivers to Deliver & Pickup At-Home Coronavirus Test Kits

Need to Know

  • Specially-trained Seattle Amazon Care drivers will provide delivery and pickup of at-home coronavirus test kits


In a new initiative, backed in part by the Gates Foundation, Seattle-based Amazon drivers will be distributing at-home coronavirus test kits and collecting the samples to be returned to testing facilities. Amazon Care, the company’s health arm originally developed for internal employee health care, will handle the delivery of the test kits, as well as returning to pick up collected samples and return them to the FDA-approved test centres. 

While at-home testing is excluded in many cases, Amazon Care’s program bypasses the use of traditional mail or package delivery. Amazon Care drivers will be specifically trained in proper handling of sensitive medical materials. The project is a limited-time research endeavour occurring in partnership with the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network. 

March 23, 2020

Yelp Launches $25 Million Relief Plan to Support Local Businesses In Need

Need to Know 

  • Yelp is supporting local businesses with $25 million in free advertising and other online services 


In an effort to support local businesses during this challenging time, popular review platform Yelp is offering $25 million in relief for small businesses. This funding includes waiving advertising fees and offering access to free upgrades for businesses that remain open. Yelp is also launching a new banner alert feature that allows businesses to indicate if they are closed or operating on special hours. The app is also developing a “contact-free delivery” category to make it easier to search businesses offering that service. 

Lyft Expands Its Service Offering to Include Meal and Medical Supply Delivery

Need to Know

  • Lyft is expanding its services to include delivery of meals and medical supplies to those in need


Lyft is expanding its service offerings amid the COVID-19 crisis by offering meal and medical supply delivering to vulnerable members of the community. The rideshare company is launching its pilot program by picking up meals from government agencies (as opposed to partnering with restaurants like other delivery apps) and delivering them to home-bound seniors and low-income students. Drivers will also deliver critical medical supplies to those who need it and will expand its medical transportation service to bring patients in need to critical medical appointments. 

Etsy Invests $5M in Relief for Sellers Impacted by COVID-19

Need to Know

  • American handmade and vintage goods e-commerce site, Etsy pledges to invest $5 million into its Offsite Ads program over the next month to help drive business for its sellers. 
  • Offsite Ads enable Etsy sellers to advertise items on various platforms and social sites without incurring any costs. Etsy’s additional investment means that sellers will not have to pay any normally occurring fees charged for third-party ads that result in a sale. 
  • Additionally, any seller on the platform that needs it will also be given a one-month grace period to pay any outstanding Etsy bills. 


In a letter shared on its website, Etsy CEO Josh Silverman stressed the importance of supporting small businesses and the self-employed during times of crisis. 

To help reduce the financial challenges experienced by many of its sellers, Etsy invests $5 million in relief into its OffSite Ads program. The program allows its sellers to advertise on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Bing without any upfront costs. With its donation sellers will not have to pay any fees if their ads result in a sale until May 1st. 

Starting March 20th Etsy is also giving its sellers a one-month grace period to pay any outstanding Etsy bills and has rolled out a 24/7 help team dedicated to assisting in the areas of shipping and delivery.

MasterClass Launches Free Q&A Sessions with Thought Leaders

Need to Know

  • MasterClass makes its new Q&A sessions free for the foreseeable future. 
  • During the sessions, thought leaders and experts in their respective fields answer student-submitted questions asked by a moderator. 
  • The first free session takes place on Wednesday, March 25 at noon PT and features Chris Voss, a former lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI.


To help make itself more accessible to both its members and non-members MasterClass is offering its newly launched Q&A sessions for free – previously the feature was only available as a member benefit. 

The sessions feature industry experts known for being the best at what they do (think Serena Williams and Gordon Ramsey) and lead by a moderator who asks pre-submitted student questions. Viewers are able to join in via the MasterClass site, its mobile app, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.

The free sessions launch Wednesday, March 25 with Chris Voss, a former lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI.

US Residents Now have Access to Clara, a COVID-19 Self-Assessment Bot

Need to Know

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has introduced Clara, a bot to help citizens make informed decisions if they are experiencing coronavirus symptoms. 
  • The ‘coronavirus self-checker’ is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment but rather gives recommendations based on questions the user answers. 
  • Clara was created by the CDC Foundation and a partnership with Microsoft Azure’s Healthcare Bot service.


The growing number of COVID-19 cases in the US and its overwhelming effects on health systems have prompted the CDC Foundation to develop a COVID-19 self-assessment bot to help citizens. 

Although not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment ‘Clara’ uses AI to help users make decisions about what to do if they are experiencing potential coronavirus symptoms. 

With more than 15,200 cases in the US alone, the self-assessment bot will help prevent the “bottleneck that threatens to overwhelm health systems coping with the crisis,” Microsoft said in a statement.

March 20, 2020

League Offers Free 3-Month Trial to Businesses Who Need Virtual HR Support

Need to Know 

  • HR platform League Inc. is offering a complimentary trial of its Health Benefits Experience offering to businesses in need


League Inc. is an enterprise healthcare platform offering a free three-month trial for businesses that may need support for their HR teams during the COVID-19 pandemic. The platform allows employers to provide health and technology resources to enhance healthcare navigation, access, and resources to teams that are newly decentralized.

The three-month free trial provides mobile-first communication, access to virtual preliminary COVID-19 screenings, and access to additional health-focused services and programs, such as stress and anxiety management programs.

Vidyard Helps Remote Teams Stay Connected with Free Video Tools

Need to Know

  • In addition to their other free apps and platforms, Vidyard adds a new free offering to its roster, Vidyard for Internal Communications. 
  • Vidyard for Internal Communications allows executives and employees to record, secure, and share private videos directly from their web browser and email app 
  • The cloud-based solution will be offered for free for businesses until June 30th, 2020.


Vidyard’s new internal communication tool aims to help businesses adapt to the work from home environment many businesses and teams currently find themselves in. The online video platform currently offers many free services including video messaging apps and video hosting and publishing platforms.

Vidyard Internal Communications helps users stay connected to their virtual teams using secure video and allows users to capture, share, and store unlimited videos via web-based extensions and requires no additional software. Vidyard will be offering its internal comms platform for free until June 30th. 

Genomics Platform DNAStack Launches COVID-19 Beacon to Help the Medical Community

Need to Know

  • DNAStack launched a COVID-19 Beacon that enables the scientific and medical communities to share and discover real-time knowledge about the genetics of the virus. 
  • The platform pulls derivative data from generic sequencing libraries like GISAIS and allows researchers to discover sequences with specific genetic mutations and map their geographic and evolutionary origins. 
  • Since the information is shared in real-time via a cloud-based global network, researches around the world are able to simulational look for ways to fight the virus.


With more than 209,800 confirmed cases and 8,770 deaths in 168 countries to date COVID-19 very quickly became a global pandemic. DNAStack’s new beacon will allow researchers and clinicians worldwide to pool their knowledge on the virus potentially identifying targets for diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines. 

“What we know about the virus is changing hourly as researchers and clinicians accumulate and analyze data,” said Marc Fiume, CEO of DNAstack  “The COVID-19 Beacon will allow information about genetic variants to be shared instantly using software that follows an open international standard.”

DNAstack’s membership in the Digital Technology Supercluster, a multi-industry collaboration of diverse small and large companies, research organizations and government agencies, aims to make an impact on the fight against the coronavirus with the speed and magnitude that no single organization could achieve on its own.

Yelp to Waive Fees and Upgrade Services for Local Restaurants and Nightlife Businesses

Need to Know

  • Yelp pledges $25M to local restaurants and nightlife struggling from COVID-19. 
  • The business directory and crowd-sourced review platform will be waiving advertising fees and offering other free products and services.


Addressing the impact COVID-19 has had on independent local businesses Yelp has committed $25M in relief in the form of waived advertising fees, and free advertising, products, and services. Restaurants that remain open are able to receive free access to Yelp page upgrades like Business Highlights and Call to Action features. 

For its restaurant clients offering delivery and/or takeout, in addition to waiving advertising fees, Yelp is providing  $100 in free search advertising. The platform has created a special website to walk restaurants through the eligibility requirements. Generally, the relief efforts are available to independently owned restaurant and nightlife businesses and franchisees in the U.S., Canada, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico with fewer than five locations.

Just Eat Launches Emergency Support Package to Help Restaurants

Need to Know

  • From March 20 – April 19 takeout marketplace Just Eat will be removing their commissions across all collection orders and waiving all sign-up fees for new restaurants joining the platform. 
  • The company will also be issuing restaurants commission rebates of one-third (33%) on all commissions paid to Just Eat by the restaurants. 


With on-demand food delivery surging in popularity Just Eat aims to ease some of the pressure on its restaurant partners. As outlined in its Emergency Support Package, Just Eat will be issuing its UK partner restaurants a commission rebate of one-third on all commissions paid. It will also be removing commissions on all collection orders, waiving all sign-up fees for new restaurants, and relaxing existing arrangements for its partners to work with delivery aggregators. 

Available until April 19th Just Eat’s Emergency Support Package represents a value of £10 million+. 

Meditation Apps Offer Free Services During COVID-19 Crisis

Need to Know

  • Headspace has made its premium-level service free for all US healthcare professionals who work in public health settings. 
  • Simple Habit is offering free premium memberships for anyone who has been financially impacted by the pandemic. 
  • Calm has made a number of meditations free for its members. 


With much of the world practicing social distancing and various forms of isolation many meditation and wellness apps are helping relieve mental health strain by offering up free services. 

To help US healthcare professionals working on the front lines, Headspace is offering is premium-level service to qualified workers for free. US health workers that qualify can enter their National Provider Identifier (NPI) and email address on the companies website and will have free access to Headspace Plus until the end of 2020.

Simple Habit is also offering its premium memberships for free to anyone who has been financially impacted by the coronavirus and can no longer afford the service. Those who qualify can email help [at], making note that they’re in a precarious financial position. Simple Habit’s free service will be available until the end of April. 

Calm has also made a number of its meditations available for free for its members and is currently exploring additional ways that it can help a strained community.

Many Fitness Publishers Unlocking Fitness Classes and Content

Need to Know

  • Popsugar bumped up the release of its new website “Active by Popsugar” removing its initial subscription fee. The website gives users access to over 500 fitness classes and content from celebrity trainers and experts. 
  • Mindbodygreen has moved five of its best-selling e-learning classes out from behind its paywall in an effort to help its audience’s mental health. 
  • Hearst Magazines is extending the free trial period of its All/Out Studio subscription video workout app from seven days to 30. 


As part of the initiative to limit public exposure in social settings, many local authorities have forced the closure of gyms during the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, many companies are revamping their marketing strategies to include public access to content normally locked behind paywalls and subscriptions. 

Popsugar had initially planned to launch its new site “Active by Popsugar” next month but rushed it to market now due to the growing number of users restricted to their homes and looking for workouts. Popsugar has removed the initial subscription fee and since launching on March 15th has over 6,000 signups. Mindbodygreen and Hearst Magazines have followed suit removing some of their most popular content out from behind paywalls and increasing their free trial periods. 

To help keep their clients active and “social” while at home, many fitness studios and gyms have also begun offering free virtual classes through social apps like Instagram Live.

March 19, 2020

Facebook Invests $100 Million to Help Small Businesses

Need to Know

  • Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where Facebook operates. 
  • Business Hub, a resource for Facebook employees and health experts has also been made public and is now available to everyone. 
  • Facebook is also in the process of creating new virtual training to support businesses.


Facebook’s small business investment of $100 million comes at a time when many small businesses across the country are closing to help stop the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus. Cash grants and ad credits will be available for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries and can be used to help cover operational and rent costs. 

To help business owners manage their businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak, Facebook has also made its Business Resource Hub public. Previously only available to Facebook employees and health experts, the Resource Hub guides business owners through setting up a resilience toolkit and other useful programs. 

Facebook will begin accepting applications for cash grants and ad credits in the next few weeks. Any small businesses interested in applying can receive more information here as it becomes available. 

Starbucks to Offer On-Demand Delivery Service with Uber Eats

Need to Know

  • Starbucks partners with Uber Eats to expand its ‘Starbucks Delivers’ on-demand delivery service across the US. The expansion is expected to be live by the end of April. 
  • The updated service will be available in all 48 states where both companies are operational.


In addition to switching to a to-go only model, Starbucks plans to expand its on-demand delivery service with an UberEats partnership. Previously only available across 48 markets in 29 US states, the new partnership will expand the program availability to the 48 states where both businesses operate. US residents can expect the country-wide coffee delivery service to be available by the end of April.

March 18, 2020

Amazon Prioritizes Household Goods and Vital Supplies

Need to Know

  • Amazon shifts priority to household goods and vital supplies as coronavirus outbreak causes increased demand in online shopping


Amazon is freeing up inventory space for medical and household goods by prioritizing essential items in the coming weeks. In the wake of COVID-19 and people spending more time in their homes, the online shopping giant is seeing an increased online shopping demand.

While Amazon will continue to stock and ship non-essential items, household and medical supplies are quickly running out of stock. As such, certain categories will be given priority in order to “quickly receive, restock and ship these products to customers.”

Amazon has also hired over 100,000 new workers for its Seattle warehouse to keep up with the increasing need to shop online. 

Zocal Location-Sharing App Sees Massive Boost

Need to Know

  • Location-sharing app sees a huge spike in usage amidst coronavirus concerns


Zocal is a messaging app that shows where your contacts are distributed around the world and allows you to chat with them based on where they are located, or even mass message all of your contacts in one city. The app makes it easier to keep track of your loved ones as they leave the house for essential errands during a lockdown. The location-based messaging app has seen a usage spike of 600% since the onset of the coronavirus outbreak. 

March 17, 2020

Grocery Delivery App Demand is up 100%

Need to Know

  • Demand for grocery delivery apps increases by over 100% for some apps 
  • In contrast, demand for food delivery apps has seen a sharp decline


As consumers adjust to a new normal post-coronavirus outbreak, online grocery ordering apps are seeing a massive increase in downloads. 

Because shoppers have grown increasingly wary of exposing themselves to the virus in public, more and more families are choosing to shop online and have groceries delivered. Instacart and Walmart Grocery have seen an increase in daily downloads by 218% and 160% respectively. Walmart’s grocery pickup service has become a world leader in curbside pickup. 

But as the demand for grocery delivery increases, the demand for food delivery decreases, with the download of popular apps like DoorDash and UberEats declining. 

Chowly Order-Ahead Waives Setup Fees, Onboards Restaurants in 2 days

Need to Know 

  • Restaurant software company Chowly announces a “COVID-19 Relief Response” plan to help lessen the financial impact the coronavirus is having on the restaurant industry. 
  • The response plan features waived setup fees and a 60-day, no-risk trial period to restaurants that sign up for a limited time.


Hoping to lessen the financial impact on the restaurant industry, Chowly has waived its setup fees making it easier for restaurants to roll out off-premise order fulfillment. In as few as two business days, restaurants can roll out Chowly’s point-of-sale system and begin selling on ordering channels and third-party delivery platforms like Grubhub, UberEats, DoorDash, and Postmates through its built-in software integrations. 

To prevent restaurant owners from having to worry about the costs associated with new technology Chowly is also offering a 60-day, no-risk trial period to restaurants that sign up for a limited time.

March 16, 2020

Starbucks Goes ‘To-Go’ Only

Need to Know

  • Starbucks deploys new “to-go” model to help combat COVID-19 in all of its US and Canadian locations. 
  • The plan involves temporary phase-out of all in-store and patio seating and the temporary closure of company-operated stores in high-traffic areas. 


Starbucks has shifted to a “to-go” model in all of its Canadian and US locations. In addition to phasing-out in-store seating, the coffee chain will close company-operated stores located in high-traffic areas and reduce the operating hours of stores located in areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases. The chain has also paused the use of reusable cups. Customers are able to place orders via the counter, their mobile app, drive-thrus, and their Starbucks Delivers on-demand delivery service in markets where it is available.  

Starbucks also plans to assist its employees by expanding its childcare support program, offering pay to employees exposed to the virus and plans to invest $10 million to its Caring Unites Partners fund and other global resources to support the needs of its employees beyond pay.

Uber Provides Free Meals to Health Care Workers

Need to Know

  • Uber is delivering free meals to health-care workers and first responders working to combat the coronavirus pandemic in both Canada and the US. 
  • Uber Eats is also waving delivery fees for local orders in some of its markets. 


In coordination with local, state and provincial governments Uber is giving 300,000 free meals to health officials and first responders in Canada and the US. In addition to supporting front-line workers, Uber is supporting local businesses by driving take-out ordering. Uber Eats has waived the delivery fee for over 100,000 independent restaurants across both Canada and the US. Uber eats customers can also take advantage of dedicated, targeted marketing campaigns sent both in-app and via email.