NEW YORK — More evidence is emerging that far more New Yorkers have had the coronavirus than the number confirmed by lab tests, officials said Thursday.

A state survey of about 3,000 people found that nearly 14 per cent had antibodies, suggesting they had been exposed to the virus, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his daily news briefing.

In New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., 21 per cent of the people tested had antibodies.

Cuomo cautioned that the data was preliminary. The sample of people tested was small. Participants were hastily recruited at shopping centers and grocery stores, which meant they were healthy enough to be out in public.

But the governor said knowing how many people have antibodies, and who might possibly be immune to the virus, could potentially help set policy on when to reopen parts of the state.

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“We’ll have a larger and larger sample. But I want to see snapshots of what is happening with that rate. Is it going up, is it flat, is it down? And it can really give us data to make decisions,” Cuomo said.