The Internet has been vital to our response to the COVID-19 crisis: enabling researchers to communicate with the rest of the world, connecting resources with people who need them, and sharing data about the spread.

It’s been amazing to see some of the projects people have stood up on Cloudflare Workers to assist during this crisis. Workers allows you to get set up in minutes, it’s fast and scalable out of the box, and there’s no infrastructure to maintain or scale, which is great if you want to create a project quickly.

To support critical web projects that help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re giving free access to our Cloudflare Workers compute platform through Project Galileo. We believe sites, apps, APIs, and tools that can help people with COVID-19 are exactly the type of critically important projects that Project Galileo was designed to support.    

Free Cloudflare Workers

One of the earliest impacts of the COVID-19 crisis was the switch that many organizations made to a fully remote model. As that happened, and we realized that many organization’s VPNs were not up to the task of scaling to support this increased load, Cloudflare made Cloudflare for Teams free through at least September 1, 2020.

If you’re working on a COVID-19 related project, follow the Project Galileo link and submit a request — we’ll get back to you as quickly as we can. And if you’re interested in getting started with Workers, there are some links at the bottom of the post that will help.

Example Projects

Amidst all the devastating news, it’s been really inspiring to see  developers jump in and build tools to help the public through the pandemic. We are excited to share a few of the stories they’ve shared with us.

API-COVID19-In

API-COVID-19-In, built by Amod Malviya, is an API for tracking COVID-19 cases in India, sourced from The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and separately from unofficial sources.

"I created api-covid19-in to make it easier for people working all over India to contribute to fighting this situation — be it by creating mass transparency (the aggregate data API), or detecting patterns (the crowd sourced patient data API), or planning (hospital beds API)".

Why Workers?

  • Very simple to be up & running. From the first code being written, to being up and running happened in less than an hour.
  • Better than the alternatives of maintaining an Origin (higher cost), or exposing it via Github pages (can't do compute on every call).
  • Not having to be worried about scaling or performance.

MakeFaceMasks

A few weeks ago, a Belgian grassroots movement of makers started to brainstorm on how they can fight the COVID-19 crisis. One of the projects is MakeFaceMasks. They have created a DIY manual to sew masks, which has been approved by the Belgian Government.

Why Workers?

  • We could automate our development/translation flow. This allowed us to quickly generate translated versions of the website.
  • Websites are deployed automatically with Github Actions.
  • Handle the load: the day we launched we immediately attracted 100,000 unique visitors with any downtime.

Mask A Hero NY

Mask a Hero NY is a volunteer-run site that matches medical professionals that need Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic with people that can donate it.

"We launched it about 2 weeks ago. The COVID-19 situation in New York is very worrying. My friends that are doctors are doing everything they can to help and they saw a lot of people on Facebook groups offering to donate small amounts of PPE, but it was hard for these people to know where it was needed the most and coordinate pickups. So my friends reached out to me to see if I could help. I pulled in my colleague MJ, and we designed and built the site in about 2 days.

The site has been a big success so far. It has facilitated over 27,000 mask donations already with a lot more to come this week. It's been featured on NBC News, CBS, MSNBC, on Katie Couric's social media and newsletter, some NY-area newspapers, and more. That matters because each feature has been followed by an increase in donation submissions. The site has facilitated donations to a variety of large and small hospitals and medical departments that are feeling the strain during this time. We're really proud of the impact so far but want to do even more to help these medical professionals."

Why Workers?

"When we built the site, we wanted the absolute easiest and most straightforward tech stack. It's a 4-page site with no dynamic information. A static site generator was the obvious choice, so I chose Jekyll. Then for hosting, the last thing I want to deal with on a static site is complex server configuration and uptime. Workers Sites is super easy to deploy - I just run wrangler publish after a Jekyll build. Workers Sites handles cache breaking and has Cloudflare's caching built-in. Most importantly, I don't have to worry about the site going down. We've seen big traffic spikes after being featured in the media. The site has never gotten slower and I don't have to worry. Cloudflare Workers Sites lets us concentrate on helping the people that need it instead of spending time managing hosting."

CovidTracking API

The COVID Tracking Project collects and publishes the most complete testing data available for US states and territories. The project emerged from a tweet of a Google Sheets spreadsheet, where someone was keeping tabs on the testing from each state.

“I had been making something similar but Jeff Hammerbacher had a more complete version. After Jeff combined forces with Alexis Madrigal I thought it best to use the data they had. Since we’ve used Google Sheets to power websites in the past I thought I should spin up a quick service that fetches the sheet data from Google and make it available as JSON for people to use.”  

Why Workers?

“Google often requires an API key or has some strange formatting. I just wanted an array of values that reflected the sheet rows. No long complicated URL. I picked Cloudflare Workers because it works really well as a serverless proxy.

At first the Worker was just a simple proxy, making an API request for every Worker request. Then I added cf: { cacheEverything: true, cacheTtl: 120 } to the fetch() options so Cloudflare could cache the fetch result. Caching the source is great but still requires having to decode, modify and serialize on every request. Some endpoints requested XML from AWS. Since it takes some time to parse really big XML strings we started seeing errors that the process was taking longer than 50ms CPU time. Cloudflare had to (generously) increase our limits to keep things running smoothly.

Not wanting consumers of our API to be kept waiting while the servers crunched the data on every request we started using Cloudflare Key Value storage for saving the parsed and serialized result. We put a TTL limit (like an hour) on every file saved to the KV store. On a new request we return the previous generated result from the cache first and then lookup the TTL of the item and if it’s more than 5 minutes old we make a new request and save it to the cache for next time. This way the user gets a fast result before we update an entry. If no user makes a request for an hour the cached item expires and the next request has to wait for a full process before response but that doesn’t happen for the popular endpoint/query options.”

Get Started

If you’re building a resource to help others cope with COVID-19, and getting started with Workers, below are a few resources to get you started:

  • Workers Sites: allows you to deploy your static site directly to Cloudflare’s network, with a few simple commands. Get started with our tutorial, or video.
  • Tutorials: check out our tutorials to get started with Workers. We’ve highlighted a couple below that we think might be especially useful to you:
  • Localize a website: make your website accessible to an even greater audience by translating it to other languages.
  • Chat bot: with more people using chat for remote communication, chat bots can be a great way to make information more easily accessible at the public’s fingertips.
  • Template gallery: our template gallery is designed to help you build with Workers by providing building blocks such as code snippets and boilerplate. For example, if you are writing an API, we suggest getting started using our Apollo GraphQL server boilerplate.
  • HTMLRewriter API: the HTMLRewriter is a streaming HTML parser with an easy to use selector based JavaScript API for DOM manipulation, available in the Cloudflare Workers runtime. With so much disparate information on the web, many services that provide data about COVID-19 rely on scraping and aggregating data from multiple sources. See an example of the HTMLRewriter in action here to learn how you can use it to extract information from the web.
  • Want to help, but not sure what to build? Our Built with Workers gallery features projects utilizing Workers today to give you an idea of the possibilities of what you can build with Workers.