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

The University of Arizona will delay the start of classes after spring break, and move to online courses over concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak.

All classes will be canceled next Monday and Tuesday, with courses resuming Wednesday, March 18, "and moving from in-person instruction to online instruction wherever possible," UA President Robert Robbins announced.

Related: Arizona declares public health emergency over coronavirus

"At this time, the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Tucson is low, and there are no confirmed cases on any domestic University of Arizona campus," he said Wednesday night, announcing the response to the coronavirus outbreak.

"Nonetheless, like all U.S. universities, the University of Arizona is rapidly ramping up coronavirus mitigation efforts to keep our community as safe as possible," Robbins said.

"There is no doubt these policies will disrupt and inconvenience our campus community. However, I strongly believe these short-term disruptions will greatly reduce the risk of significant long-term negative consequences," he said.

From the UA:

  • Residence halls, recreational facilities, food services and Campus Health are open now and will remain open.
  • Classes will continue in online mode until Monday, April 6, at which time the University will assess its operational status.
  • All public events will continue, with the exception of the Bear Down Music Fest, unless otherwise announced.

UA officials had earlier told students to not attend classes if they are ill. Wednesday afternoon, ASU announced a similar cancellation of in-person classes.

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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: ASU cancels classes, public events 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."

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