Exactly 100 days after the first coronavirus case was confirmed in New York City, some workers began returning to jobs on Monday at the start of reopening from a citywide shutdown to battle the epidemic that killed nearly 22,000 of its residents.
People who had been staying home for months boarded subways and buses as the most populous U.S. city began Phase One of its hopeful journey toward economic recovery.
"This is clearly the hardest place in America to get to this moment because we're the epicenter," Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
New York, by far the hardest-hit U.S. city, on Monday reported the rate of people testing positive for the coronavirus fell to a new low of 3%, well below its threshold for reopening of 15%, de Blasio said.
As some 400,000 workers head back to 32,000 construction sites, wholesale and manufacturing centers, and some retail sites across the city, de Blasio urged them to wear face masks and use social distancing to keep COVID-19 cases on a downward trend - particularly those who use mass transit to get to work.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority employee Projjal Dutta distributed free hand sanitizer and surgical masks to subway riders in Harlem. He said that although he had continued his MTA office job virtually from home, this was also his first day physically back at work. 
Subway rider Jim Duke, who commutes from the New York suburb of Putnam County, said normally packed trains had few enough riders to accommodate social distancing from other commuters.
"There's not a lot of people on there, so it's fairly easy. So far," said Duke, wearing a face mask.
"If we follow those guidelines in New York City, there should not be a spike, just like there hasn't been a spike across the rest of the state," Cuomo said. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo noted that the rest of the state had already entered the same reopening phase without a jump in infections, largely because of restrictions that limit restaurants to serving guests only outdoors and retailers to making only curbside sales.
De Blasio said the city is opening 20 miles (32 km) of new bus routes and new bus lanes from June through October to increase the spacing between mass transit passengers.
The mayor said he was cautiously monitoring the virus' spread after thousands of protesters - many without masks - swarmed New York streets for daily marches against racism following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, to be sure reopening can continue and eventually bring customers back to hair salons, restaurants, and other businesses.

President Donald Trump on Monday pledged to maintain funding for police departments in the United States amid growing calls for sweeping cuts to law enforcement budgets as protesters clamored for an end to police brutality following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis last month.
“There won’t be defunding, there won’t be dismantling of our police,” Trump told a roundtable of state, federal, and local law enforcement officials at the White House on Monday. “We want to make sure we don’t have any bad actors in there ... but 99 percent ... of them are great great people and have done jobs that are record-setting.”
Demonstrators’ anger over the May 25 death of George Floyd, 46, is giving way to a growing movement to make his case a turning point in race relations and policing, with some protesters and some liberal Democrats calling for police budgets to be slashed.
But moderate Democrats have distanced themselves from the proposal, including presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey was jeered by protesters over the weekend after telling them he opposed their demands for cuts in the city’s police department.
At a White House briefing earlier on Monday, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump “is appalled by the defunding the police movement.” She noted that the President is “taking a look at various” proposals in response to Floyd’s death, but offered no specifics as to what measures he was considering.
On Monday, Democrats in Congress unveiled here legislation that would make lynching a hate crime and allow victims of police and their families to sue police for damages in civil court, ending a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity.

Trump has drawn fire for calling on state governors to crack down on the thousands protesting Floyd’s death around the country and threatening to send in the U.S. military even as he described himself as an ally to peaceful protesters.
McEnany said on Monday that Trump believes there are some “instances” of racism among police but added that the president sees the police as by and large good people.
 Thousands of mourners braved sweltering Texas heat on Monday to view the casket of George Floyd, whose death after a police officer knelt on his neck ignited worldwide protests against the mistreatment of African Americans and other minorities by U.S. law enforcement.
American flags fluttered along the route to the Fountain of Praise church in Houston, where Floyd grew up, as throngs of mourners wearing face coverings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus formed a procession to pay final respects.
Solemnly filing through the church in two parallel lines, some mourners bowed their heads, others made the sign of the cross or raised a fist, as they paused in front of Floyd’s open casket. More than 6,300 people took part in the visitation, which ran for more than six hours, church officials said.
Fire officials said several people, apparently overcome by heat exhaustion while waiting in line, were taken to hospitals.
“I’m glad he got the send-off he deserved,” Marcus Williams, a 46-year-old black resident of Houston, said outside the church. “I want the police killings to stop. I want them to reform the process to achieve justice, and stop the killing.”
The public viewing came two weeks to the day after Floyd’s death was captured by an onlooker’s video. As a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, an unarmed and handcuffed Floyd, 46, lay face down on a Minneapolis street, gasping for air and groaning for help, before falling silent.
The case was reminiscent of the 2014 killing of another African American, Eric Garner, who died after being placed by police in a chokehold while under arrest in New York City.
The dying words of both men, “I can’t breathe,” have become a rallying cry in a global outpouring of rage, drawing crowds by the thousands to the streets despite health hazards from the coronavirus pandemic.
The demonstrations stretched into a third week on Monday.
“Even though it is a risk to come out here, I think it has been a very positive experience. You hear the stories, you feel the energy,” Benedict Chiu, 24, told Reuters at an outdoor memorial service in Los Angeles.
“I’m here to protest the mistreatment of our black bodies. It’s not going to stop unless we keep protesting,” said Erica Corley, 34, one of the hundreds attending a gathering in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland.
As the public viewing unfolded in Houston, Derek Chauvin, 44, the police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck and is charged with second-degree murder, made his first court appearance in Minneapolis by video link. A judge ordered his bail raised from $1 million to $1.25 million.
Chauvin’s co-defendants, three fellow officers accused of aiding and abetting Floyd’s murder, were previously ordered held on $750,000 to $1 million bonds each.



Attorney Ben Crump raises his arm as Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis police custody has sparked nationwide protests against racial inequality, gets emotional while speaking during the public viewing of Floyd at The Fountain of Praise church in Houston, Texas, U.S., June 8, 2020. Standing on the left is Reverend Al Sharpton and in the background is George Floyd’s younger brother Rodney Floyd. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
All four were dismissed from the police department the day after Floyd’s death.
Unleashed amid pent-up anxiety and despair inflicted by a pandemic that has hit minority communities especially hard, the demonstrations have reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter movement and thrust demands for racial justice and police reforms to the top of America’s political agenda ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Protests in a number of U.S. cities were initially punctuated by episodes of arson, looting, and clashes with police, deepening a political crisis for President Donald Trump as he repeatedly threatened to order the military into the streets to help restore order.

POLICE ‘DEFUNDING’ STIRS CONTROVERSY

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who is challenging the Republican Trump in the election, met with Floyd’s relatives for more than an hour in Houston on Monday, according to the family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump.
“He listened, heard their pain and shared in their woe,” Crump said. “That compassion meant the world to this grieving family.” Floyd was due to be buried on Tuesday.
In Washington, Democrats in Congress unveiled legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime and to allow victims of police misconduct and their families to sue law enforcement for damages in civil court, ending a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity.
The bill also would ban chokeholds and require the use of body cameras by federal law enforcement officers, place new restrictions on the use of lethal force and facilitate independent probes of police departments that show patterns of misconduct.
The legislation does not call for police departments to be de-funded or abolished, as some activists have demanded. But lawmakers called for spending priorities to change.
Trump “is appalled by the defund-the-police movement,” White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told a media briefing. She said Trump was weighing various proposals in response to Floyd’s death.




Biden opposes the movement to defund police departments but supports the “urgent need” for reform, a spokesman for his presidential campaign said.
A high-spirited atmosphere that prevailed over a series of mass demonstrations during the weekend was marred late on Sunday when a man drove a car into a rally in Seattle and then shot and wounded a demonstrator who confronted him. The suspect, Nikolas Fernandez, was charged on Monday with assault.
Separately, a man described by prosecutors as an admitted member of the Ku Klux Klan and “propagandist for Confederate ideology,” was arrested on suspicion of driving his pickup truck into a rally near Richmond, Virginia, late on Sunday. The suspect, Harry H. Rogers, 36, was charged with assault and battery, malicious wounding and felony vandalism.
 International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N) disclosed Monday it will no longer offer facial recognition or analysis software in a letter to Congress calling for new efforts to pursue justice and racial equity, new Chief Executive Officer Arvind Krishna said.
The company will stop offering facial recognition software and opposes any use of such technology for purposes of mass surveillance and racial profiling, Krishna said, who also called for new federal rules to hold police more accountable for misconduct.
IBM did not explain the timing of its decision to exit facial recognition development but Krishna told lawmakers “now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies.”
The announcement came as the United States grapples with nationwide protests over the death of a black man, George Floyd, under police custody in Minneapolis, and rising calls for police reform.
“IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms,” Krishna wrote, adding “technology can increase transparency and help police protect communities but must not promote discrimination or racial injustice.”
Government officials across the country have proposed reforms to address police brutality and racial injustice aimed at boosting oversight of law enforcement agencies.
Krishna, the key architect of IBM’s $34 billion Red Hat acquisition last year, took over the chief executive role in April.
CNBC reported IBM’s facial recognition business did not generate significant revenue. A person familiar with the matter told Reuters the facial recognition product decisions were made over a period of months. The company will no longer market, sell or update the products but will support clients as needed, the person added.
IBM is no longer developing, creating, researching, or selling facial recognition products in application programming interface or any other form. IBM’s visual technology will be limited only to visual object detection, not for facial analysis and identification, the person added.
The U.S. economy entered a recession in February as the coronavirus struck the nation, a group of economists declared Monday, ending the longest expansion on record.
The economists said that employment, income, and spending peaked in February and then fell sharply afterward as the viral outbreak shut down businesses across the country, marking the start of the downturn after nearly 11 full years of economic growth.
A committee within the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private nonprofit group, determines when recessions begin and end. It broadly defines a recession as “a decline in economic activity that lasts more than a few months.”
For that reason, the NBER typically waits longer before making a determination that the economy is in a downturn. In the previous recession, the committee did not declare that the economy was in recession until December 2008, a year after it had actually begun. But in this case, the NBER said the collapse in employment and incomes was so steep that it could much more quickly make a determination.
“The unprecedented magnitude of the decline in employment and production, and its broad reach across the entire economy, warrants the designation of this episode as a recession, even if it turns out to be briefer than earlier contractions,” the NBER panel said.
The way the NBER defines recessions, they begin in the same month that the previous expansion ends. Because the economy peaked in February, that is the month when the recession officially began, rather than in March, when unemployment began to rise.
Financial markets had little reaction Monday to the NBER’s declaration. February is when the stock market hit its own record high before stumbling into a severe downturn from which it has mostly recovered, thanks to extraordinary stimulus and support measures from the Federal Reserve and Congress as well as expectations that the worst of the economic pain may have passed.
The unemployment rate is officially 13.3%, down from 14.7% in April. Both figures are higher than in any other downturn since World War II. A broader measure of underemployment that includes those who have given up looking and those who have been reduced to part-time status is 21.2%.
On Friday, the government said that employers added 2.5 million jobs in May, an unexpected gain that suggested job losses may have bottomed out. A recession ends when employment and output start to pick up again, not when they reach their pre-recession levels. So it’s possible that the recession could technically end soon.
That would make the current recession the shortest and deepest on record. It is expected to be followed by an extended recovery before the economy manages to regain its pre-pandemic levels of production and employment. Some economists say it could take two years or more, with the unemployment rate likely still 10% or higher at the end of this year.
“The most important thing to focus on is the strength of the recovery, and that’s where the greatest uncertainty lies right now,” said Ernie Tedeschi, policy economist at investment bank Evercore ISI.
It’s unclear, Tedeschi noted, whether the virus is under control, whether there will be a second wave or whether or when a vaccine will be developed.
On Monday, the World Bank said the world was facing a health and economic crisis that has spread with astonishing speed and will produce the largest shock the global economy has witnessed in seven decades. It expects millions of people to be pushed into extreme poverty.
In its updated global outlook, the World Bank projected that international economic activity will shrink by 5.2% this year, the deepest recession since a contraction in 1945-46 at the end of World War II. The 5.2% downturn would be the fourth-worst global downturn over the past 150 years, exceeded only by the Great Depression of the 1930s and the periods immediately after World War I and World War II.
In the U.S., states have begun reopening their economies, thereby allowing businesses to recall some employees to work. But economic activity is returning only very gradually. Full recovery won’t occur until Americans are willing to resume their previous habits of shopping, eating out, and traveling. That might not happen until a vaccine is developed or testing is more widely available.
Diane Swonk, the chief economist at Grant Thornton, an accounting firm, said the NBER committee might end up declaring this recession to have already ended in May based on the fact that hiring rebounded that month.
“We could have the shortest recession in history — it seems ridiculous, but we could,” Swonk said. Still, it will take much longer for the economy to rebound, she said.
“This bottom is going to be uniquely deep, and we don’t know how fast we will get out of the bottom,” she said.
Asian stocks rallied for their ninth straight day on Tuesday and oil prices jumped as the lifting of coronavirus lockdowns in many countries fed investor hopes of a relatively quick global economic recovery.




FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective face mask, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, walks in front of a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Markets have been particularly encouraged by a May U.S. jobs report last week that showed a surprise fall in the unemployment rate, sending Wall Street indices surging with the Nasdaq.IXIC hitting a record close on Monday.
Global financial markets were battered in March as investors fretted over the extent of both the short and long term damage to the world economy from the coronavirus pandemic. But most indices are now back to pre-COVID-19 levels.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside of Japan.MIAPJ0000PUS rose for a ninth straight session for its longest winning streak since early 2018. It was last up 0.76% at a three-month peak.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 jumped 2.5% while Chinese shares started on a firm footing with the blue-chip CSI300 index.CSI300 rising 0.4%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index.HSI climbed 1.2%.
Japan's Nikkei .N225 bucked the trend to be down 0.5%.
“The good news is that this shows central banks’ effort to stabilize the market have worked,” said Tai Hui, Chief Asia Market Strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
“The current risk rally is driven by investors’ belief that the worst of this recession is behind us, which we agree with. Yet, investors need to be mindful of the potential risks ahead.”
Tai said the “road to recovery” was still long while the threat of a second wave of coronavirus infections cannot be ruled out yet.
Fears of renewed trade tensions between the United States and China and the second-round impact from higher unemployment and bankruptcies worldwide also hung heavy on the outlook
For now, though, investors were taking a glass-half-full view on the global economy.
Financial, automotive, and retail-oriented and energy shares - the stocks most beaten-down since the pandemic slammed markets - have been leading world equity indices higher recently.
Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow .DJI rose 1.7%, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 1.20% and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 1.13%.
U.S. stocks were also bolstered by a move by the Federal Reserve to ease the terms of its “Main Street” lending program to encourage more businesses and banks to participate.
Investors are now seeking further clarity on U.S. monetary policy after the Fed’s two-day policy meeting ends on Wednesday.
In currency markets, the risk-sensitive Australian dollar AUD=D3 hit a five-month top of $0.7043 after eight straight days of gains but has encountered some selling pressure at those heady levels.
Its New Zealand counterpart NZD=D3 jumped to a four-month high.
The safe-haven Japanese yen also nudged up 0.2% at 108.15, while the euro EUR= was off a touch at $1.1285.
In commodities, U.S. benchmark crude CLc1 rose $1.28 a barrel to $38.68 a barrel, while Brent LCOc1 added $1.13 to $41.25.
Gold prices XAU= were up after a steep decline, boosted by hopes of a dovish monetary policy outlook from the Fed. Spot gold was last up 0.1% at 1,697.1.