President Donald Trump signed a $484 billion bill Friday to aid employers and hospitals in the latest attempt to stimulate the economy.

The latest bill provides $250 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program, a fund to help small- and medium-size businesses with payroll, rent and other expenses. Initially funded with $349 billion, money ran out within a week of its launch earlier this month. Experts expect this latest cash infusion to disappear quickly as well.

So far in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress has passed four coronavirus relief bills that total at least $2.4 trillion for business relief, testing and treatment and direct payments to individuals and the unemployed, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The Paycheck Protection Program provides forgivable loans so businesses can continue paying workers while they’re having to stay closed. Under the program’s guidelines, up to eight weeks of a businesses’ expenses can be covered, with 75 percent going toward labor costs.

Small businesses who were unable to get a PPP loan last time are eligible again this time; they are not required to file another application.

The first round of money went to some 1.7 million businesses nationwide. On the national level, 74% of loans were under $150,000, reports from the Small Business Administration show.

But a survey from the National Federation of Independent Business found that only about 20% of small businesses that applied for a PPP loan had money deposited in their account as of April 17.

In Mississippi, according to the Mississippi Bankers Association, 20,748 loans were approved for $2.48 billion.

“Mississippi banks worked around the clock processing loans for the first PPP allocation, and our banks are planning to work all weekend to continue to assist small business owners in keeping Mississippians employed through the help of the Paycheck Protection Program loans,” said MBA President and CEO Gordon Fellows. “There were some nationwide challenges with the rollout of such a large and urgent federal program, but Mississippi banks and bankers are continuing to work through those challenges to provide the much needed assistance to workers across the state.”

The newest legislation also contains $100 billion for hospitals and a nationwide testing program, along with $60 billion for small banks and an alternative network of community development banks that focus on development in urban neighborhoods and rural areas ignored by many lenders. Another $60 billion is set aside for small-business loans and grants delivered through the Small Business Administration’s existing disaster aid program.

Twitter: @dennisseid

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