North Carolina will stay paused in Phase 3 for the next three weeks because of a rise in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Roy Cooper announced in a press briefing today. 

The state has surpassed its previous peak in case counts which occurred back in July, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen said. At that time, the peak was 2,481 cases.  On Friday, Oct. 16, the state reported 2,684 new cases, the highest since the start of the pandemic. 

Cohen said the main causes of this increase have been social and religious gatherings.

As cases increase statewide, Alamance County and Elon University have also seen an increase in cases. 

Alamance County is reporting a cumulative total of 4,852 cases as of today, according to the NCDHHS. The county reported the second highest cases in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic on Oct. 16 with 95 cases.

At Elon, there have 72 cases within the campus community in the past 14 days. The university moved to the moderate alert level after a cluster was identified in an on-campus dorm on Oct. 15. There have since been three additional clusters identified

This week, new data was made available on the NCDHHS’s coronavirus dashboard, including demographic data for those being hospitalized, county-level data and data on clusters around the state, according to Cooper.

Cooper also said there have been over 12,000 eligible applicants for the $117 million HOPE program, which helps cover rent and utility costs to prevent people from being evicted during the pandemic as a result of financial struggle. The program was launched last week.