PHOENIX - Just over 81,000 Arizona small businesses were approved for loans worth $8.6 billion under a government program meant to keep people employed during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released Monday by the federal government.
The Arizona companies reported saving more than 1 million jobs as a result of the government program, which set off a frenzy among small businesses scrambling to qualify for limited funds during the economic shutdown in the spring.
Among the 11,000 firms approved for at least $150,000 in loans, several sectors dominated — restaurants, medical, dental and law offices, and construction contractors. More than 150 religious organizations — mainly churches — and nearly as many schools also were approved for loans.
The list also includes nonprofit and cultural organizations, newspapers, tribal casinos, and hotels.
For the larger $150,00-plus loans, the government reported the names and addresses of companies receiving them, but loan values were reported only as a wide range; exact figures weren’t disclosed. Little was disclosed about smaller loans.
Unsurprisingly, Phoenix led Arizona cities for large loans, with 3,338 businesses receiving them. Arizona’s largest city was followed by Scottsdale, Tucson, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert and Glendale.
North Scottsdale’s 85260 led the zip codes, with 464 businesses getting big loans worth between $175 million and $416 million. Tempe’s 85281 — home to Arizona State University — was second, with 308 businesses approved for between $107 million and $258 million.
Fifty-eight businesses received the largest loans of $5 million to $10 million.
The loans can be forgiven if businesses mostly use the money to continue paying workers. The program initially was set to expire June 30 but was extended last week to Aug. 8, with $132 billion still available.
The Paycheck Protection Program helps smaller businesses stay open and keep people employed amid the coronavirus pandemic. Under the PPP, the government is backing $659 billion in low-interest business loans that will be forgiven if employers use the money on payroll, rent, and similar expenses. Companies typically must have fewer than 500 workers to qualify.
About $130 billion was unclaimed as the application deadline closed June 30. With money still available, Congress voted to extend the program just as it was expiring, setting a new date of Aug. 8.
The public may never know the identity of more than 80% of the nearly 5 million beneficiaries to date because the administration has refused to release details on loans under $150,000 — the vast majority of borrowers. That secrecy spurred an open-records lawsuit by a group of news organizations, including The Associated Press.
Still, the release of the data is the most complete look at the program’s recipients so far.
In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Monitor your health daily
FULL COVERAGE: fox10phoenix.com/coronavirus
Arizona COVID-19 resources, FAQ: azdhs.gov/coronavirus
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Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu.
Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever.
Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes or heart conditions.
Right now there's one big difference between flu and coronavirus: A vaccine exists to help prevent the flu and it's not too late to get it. It won't protect you from catching the coronavirus, but may put you in a better position to fight it.
To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.
And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.