LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas state legislature has agreed to let Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s most recent COVID-19 emergency declaration stand.

Both the Senate Committee of the Whole and the House approved the declaration Tuesday. Hutchinson had reinstated the public health emergency for the state July 29 after COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in the state.

The current surge of the virus is being blamed on the delta variant of the virus, which is much more contagious than previous strains resulting in numbers that match those seen in January, the worst month of the pandemic in 2021.

The emergency declaration will last for 60 and allow the state to seek additional staffing assistance from an interstate compact. It will loosen some of the requirements for licensure of staff as well.

As of Monday, Arkansas had 18,922 active cases of COVID-19, with 1,220 patients hospitalized with the virus. Since the start of the pandemic, the state has seen a total of 389,280 cases and 6,199 deaths due to COVID-19.