A federal program to help small businesses keep employees on board through the coronavirus crisis saw a boom of applications since it launched a few days ago, according to Bank of America.
The bank, the first major lender to start offering the Payment Protection Program's loans on Friday, said on Monday that it has received more than 178,000 applications worth almost $33 billion, about 9.4 percent of the total available in the $349 billion program.
The figures demonstrate deep demand for relief from businesses suffering from the economic strain of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bank of America, which only offered the loans to its existing business customers, represents only a small slice of businesses.
The stark figures come despite a rocky rollout day for the program on Friday, which was characterized by chaos and confusion as banks, credit unions and other lenders scrambled to understand its contours and last-minute guidance from the Treasury Department.
Commercial lenders are meant to be the point of contact for the loans, which are provided by the Small Business Administration.
President TrumpDonald TrumpJudge rules Alaska governor unlawfully fired lawyer who criticized Trump Giuliani led fake electors plot: CNN Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case MORE on Saturday said he would ask Congress to increase the funding available through the program.
“I will immediately ask Congress for more money to support small businesses under the #PPPloan if the allocated money runs out. So far, way ahead of schedule. @BankofAmerica & community banks are rocking!” he tweeted.
I will immediately ask Congress for more money to support small businesses under the #PPPloan if the allocated money runs out. So far, way ahead of schedule. @BankofAmerica & community banks are rocking! @SBAgov @USTreasury— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 4, 2020
Almost 10 million Americans have filed initial unemployment claims in the past two weeks as the pandemic has led to a wave of business closures.