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ASU cancels classes over coronavirus

In-person classes at ASU will move online next week, called off due to the COVID-19 outbreak. University of Arizona officials have not taken such steps.

"Although there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at ASU at this time, we know that many members of the ASU community have been traveling this week during spring break to parts of the country and world where there may be community spread of COVID-19," university President Michael Crow said late Wednesday afternoon. "As a precaution, we have made the decision to transition in-person classes to online instruction wherever possible."

Starting Monday:

All in-person classes wherever possible will transition to online instruction. Classes will continue in this mode for two weeks, at which time the university will assess where things stand with COVID-19. Additional information will follow shortly with specific instruction for faculty and students on how to transition to online instruction.

The university remains open. University housing, computer labs, food service, health clinics, counseling services, research labs and all other aspects of the university remain open.

All public events will continue unless otherwise announced. 

"We are taking these steps out of an abundance of caution. Public health officials have not yet made this a requirement for public institutions," Crow said. "Nevertheless, given all that we know and what we can anticipate based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we believe this is the most prudent course of action at the current time."

Related: University of Arizona to cancel in-person classes due to coronavirus

University of Arizona officials earlier told students to not attend classes if they are ill, and then on Wednesday night announced a similar move to halt in-person classes.

Wednesday afternoon, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey declared a "public health emergency" prompted by the COVID-19 outbreak, allowing the state to request federal funds and deal with medical price-gouging.

At least nine people have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus in Arizona, officials said Wednesday, with 32 more tests pending.

Related: Arizona declares public health emergency over coronavirus

Two Pinal County cases were added to the tally on Wednesday, following Monday's announcement that there was a case in Pima County.

"While our state is not currently facing the number of cases we've seen in some other states, we are anticipating additional positive cases — and we're not taking any chances," Ducey said in announcing his emergency declaration. "Arizonans should not panic — our approach will be calm and steady."

Ducey also ordered insurance companies to cover out-of-network providers and cover 100 percent of the cost for coronavirus care. He also announced that nursing homes and elder care facilities will begin implementing new visitor policies and enhanced symptom checks for staff members and visitors.

Ducey and Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, speaking at a news conference Wednesday afternoon, downplayed suggestions that large gatherings be banned.

"At this time we are not recommending canceling mass gatherings in Arizona," Christ said. "So we are working right now with the CDC on brand-new community mitigation guidance that they just put out and we are not at a point where we would recommend those type of things, but we are constantly evaluating to see if those measures do take sense, but at this time we're not."

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that ASU was canceling all public events.

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