This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Friday, May 29th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

Read our guide to understanding New York on PAUSE, NY's stay-at-home order, as well as what the upstate reopening means; a look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.


Here's the latest:

New Jersey Will Allow Childcare Facilities And Day Camps To Reopen

4:30 p.m. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said Friday that childcare facilities, non-contact organized sports and day camps will be able to reopen in the coming weeks.

Childcare facilities, which have been closed since April 1st, are set to reopen on June 15th.

“As more and more workers prepare to get back out to their jobs, we must ensure a continuum of care for their children,” Murphy said, during his daily press briefing.

Organized non-contact sports activities will be allowed to resume on June 22nd, and summer day camps can start on July 6th.

New Jersey is currently in the first stage of its reopening plan. Similar to New York, construction is permitted along with curbside pickup for nonessential retail stores have been allowed to reopen. Restaurants are still limited to takeout or delivery, and residents have been advised to avoid public transit unless they cannot work from home.

Outdoor gatherings are capped at 25 people, while indoor gatherings are still limited to 10.

As with all activities, the state is requiring social distancing precautions as well as face masks.

NYC Will Begin Phase 1 Of Reopening On June 8th

2:30 p.m. New York City can begin the first phase of reopening on June 8th, meaning that as many as 400,000 workers could go back to work in construction, manufacturing, wholesale business and curbside retail, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

The governor's announcement of a specific reopening date for the city during his daily press briefing came as a surprise. As recently as the morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio had declined to provide a precise date other than to say it would happen within the next two weeks. The five boroughs are the only part of the state that has not yet begun reopening.

Cuomo Says "International Experts" Will Decide When New York Regions Can Move Into Phase 2 Of Reopening

12:45 p.m. Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that the state would let international experts look at the health and testing metrics of regions before moving forward with the second phase of reopening.

"We have international experts who go through it and we'll follow the data," he said, during an interview with WAMC's Alan Chartock. "The reopening in the first five regions ends [Friday]. When the reopening of phase one ends, we'll give the experts all the data. It is posted on the web but let them analyze it. And if they say we should move forward, we'll move forward."

Currently, with the exception of New York City, construction, manufacturing, wholesale businesses and retail stores with curbside pickup have been allowed to reopen with social distancing and other safety precautions in place. In the next phase, more stores could fully open as well as offices and personal-service businesses like hair salons.

Cuomo had initially said that reopened regions could move into the second phase in two weeks if the health indicators continued to show progress. His statements on Thursday created confusion for local officials in reopened regions upstate and elsewhere that were expecting to reopen on Friday.

The governor's seeming retreat from the prior plan also sparked a bold display of political defiance.

Chris Moss, the Republican executive of Chemung County, which is part of the southern tier and Finger Lakes region, said Thursday that he was telling businesses that fall under phase 2 that they can open Friday regardless of Cuomo's comment.

"Look, the governor can make that comment to someone on the radio but we can’t get a call from the governor’s office?" Moss said at a press briefing in Elmira. "You know what, we’re opening tomorrow.”

Asked About Commuting, De Blasio Says "People Are Going To Have To Improvise"

11:30 a.m. Facing intensifying questions on the city's transportation plan for upcoming reopening, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday once again said that he expected a rise in traffic as some New Yorkers elect to take cars, adding that government could not "solve everything all the time."

"People are going to have to improvise and I believe they will," he said, during his morning press briefing.

"In the short term if people are going to use cars because that’s what going to make them comfortable, then they are going to use cars," he later added.

The remarks echoed those made by the mayor on Thursday when he was asked about the lack of guidance for commuters as businesses prepare to reopen under the first phase. De Blasio has expressed confidence that the city can reopen in the next two weeks, but both he and the MTA are yet to announce how mass transit will ensure the safety of riders that often face crowded conditions.

The City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and transportation experts have roundly criticized de Blasio for his response, pointing out that most New Yorkers do not own cars and that essential workers especially rely on busses and subways.

"The City should have spent the last two months planning for this with corresponding improvement in bus service and protected bike lanes," Johnson tweeted.

He added: "We need a forward-thinking transit plan that ensures fear of mass transit during this pandemic doesn't led to carmageddon"

De Blasio on Friday reiterated that he was waiting for the MTA to provide him with details on their preparations. But in response to the mayor's comments on Friday, Sarah Feinberg, the interim president of New York City Transit," tweeted that agency officials have briefed the mayor "multiple times."

"We have no idea what the mayor is talking about," she said.

In advance of the reopening of manufacturing, construction, wholesale businesses and some retail stores, the mayor also said that the city would distribute 2 million face coverings to businesses and workers. And in another expansion of testing, the city will aim to test 31,000 employees who work in the nonprofit sector, performing roughly 4,000 tests a day through walk-in testing sites, mobile clinics and on-site visits.

"People want their livelihoods back but they know they have to stay safe," he said.

CDC Recommends Face Coverings, Temperature Checks, Better Ventilation As Americans Go Back To Work

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted new safety guidelines on its website for U.S. office employers preparing to bring back their employees as states reopen.

The recommendations, ranging from daily health check-ins and wearing face coverings to closing off communal areas, are expected to usher in a dramatic transformation of the workplace.

The list includes changes to infrastructure, includes installing transparent shields or other barriers in places where social distancing is not possible and putting visual markers so that workers know how far to stand away from one another. Daily work routines such as coffee breaks with colleagues could be upended, as well as the kitchens themselves.

“Replace high-touch communal items, such as coffee pots, water coolers, and bulk snacks, with alternatives such as prepackaged, single-serving items,” the guidelines read.

Among the potentially most costly changes the CDC suggests employers undertake is maximizing the central air flow of workspaces: "Consider running the building ventilation system even during unoccupied times to maximize dilution ventilation."

Some recommendations, like frequent hand washing, having employees work in staggered shifts to reduce workplace density and frequent cleanings, were issued near the beginning of the pandemic. But the new guidance now goes further, suggesting daily or virtual health check-ins, which could involve temperature screenings.

And in what could have a deleterious impact on mass transit systems, the CDC says that employers should incentivize transportation that minimizes close contact with others by offering reimbursement for parking or single-occupancy rides.

It is not clear how many U.S. employers will undertake all or some of the agency's guidelines, although many companies have already been discussing how to reopen safely. Some, like Twitter and Facebook, have told their workers that they may continue to work from home permanently.

States have come up with their own required list of rules involving social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment, but the CDC has often been used as a resource.

New York state is in the early stages of reopening, with New York City as the only place that is yet to enter the first phase.

The state has listed mandatory and suggested practices for manufacturing, construction and wholesale businesses.

Some NYC Contact Tracers Say Their Jobs Were Rescinded After “Utter Mess” Of A Hiring Process

When Mayor Bill de Blasio first announced plans to amass an army of contact tracers last month, Tien thought she’d be a perfect fit for the job. A Brooklyn resident in her mid-thirties, she speaks two languages and previously worked in a public-facing health care role. Most importantly, it was a job she could do remotely, while caring for her infant daughter. (Tien requested to be identified under a pseudonym because she did not want to endanger future job opportunities.)

Within days of submitting an application, she was interviewed by a recruiter with the Bachrach Group, a staffing agency contracted to handle the hiring process. After taking a six-hour training course, she was asked to start as a Contact Tracer I immediately. At a time when she’d resigned herself to long-term unemployment, the $57,000 salary and healthcare benefits felt like a lifeline.

The recruiter went silent for the next week, but Tien wasn't immediately worried, despite not having officially signed a job offer. ("You only give someone health plan info if you're planning to hire them," she'd thought.)

Finally, this past Tuesday, she received an apologetic but vague email from the Bachrach Group, informing her she had not actually been hired. “Realistically, I might know even less than you,” the recruiter wrote. Tien said she reached out to two other friends who had been led to believe they had contact tracing jobs, both of whom had also been informed their positions were now “on hold.”

“The rug got pulled from under our feet,” Tien said. “It just seems to us like an utter mess and no one knows what’s going on.”

In order for New York City to reopen, health experts say it's crucial to build out a massive team of contact tracers to track and isolate individuals infected with COVID-19. De Blasio has cited recent progress in that effort, announcing this week that more than 1,800 tracers have already been hired. The full slate of 2,500 will soon be ready to meet the state’s criteria for phase 1 reopening, pegged to begin in the next week or two, according to the mayor.

But several previously hired tracers now say their job status is unclear, with little indication about when they might start or what their work would actually entail. Some say they left other jobs — during a period of historic unemployment — for positions they fear may no longer exist.

A recruiter for the Bachrach Group, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because she feared retaliation, confirmed complaints about the chaotic hiring process.

“This is an ever changing project. Nothing I’ve been told has stayed the same,” the recruiter said. “People who may have thought they got the job probably won’t be hired. A lot of us aren’t happy about it.”

Read the full story by Jake Offenhartz here.