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NEW YORK — As the number of novel coronavirus cases in New York continues to rise, Gov. Andrew Cuomo provided an update on the outbreak in the state.

During a Wednesday press conference, Cuomo announced CUNY and SUNY schools will begin moving to “distance learning models,” or online classes, beginning March 19.

The move will help reduce the density of people in New York City.

When asked if CUNY and SUNY students will be sent home, Beth Garvey, special counsel to the governor, said officials are developing plans to make sure they can hold classes online. Garvey acknowledged there are types of instruction that can only happen in-person, such as a laboratory setting, in which case schools should try to limit the amount of people per class by offering alternating sessions.

Prior to the announcement, thousands had signed a petition online to close public schools and the CUNY system.

Cuomo also encouraged business leaders to implement social distancing practices in the workplace, including grouping schedules in shifts to reduce office density, telecommuting and working from home.

There are now 39 new confirmed cases in New York state, according to Cuomo, bringing the total to 212 confirmed cases. Thirty-two people are hospitalized.

There are 121 cases in Westchester County, 48 cases in New York City, 28 cases in Nassau County, six cases in Suffolk County, six cases in Rockland, two cases in Saratoga and one case in Ulster.

“My theory is that coronavirus was in this country before people acknowledged,” Cuomo said.

Gov. Cuomo speaks about the latest developments in the video below.

Cuomo discussed his order to have a “containment area” within a one-mile radius in New Rochelle, the Westchester suburb considered the epicenter of coronavirus in the state.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced early Wednesday on PIX11 that there were 10 new cases of COVID-19 in the city, bringing New York City’s total cases to 46.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran also announced six new coronavirus cases in the county, bringing Nassau’s total cases to 25. Curran said 20 are in Hempstead, three are in Oyster Bay and two are in North Hempstead.

The World Health Organization declared the ongoing outbreak a pandemic.

“WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “We have therefore made the assessment that #COVID19 can be characterized as a pandemic”

There are over 121,000 confirmed cases worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins. About 4,300 people have died from COVID-19 while over 66,000 have recovered.