WASHINGTON (WJZ) — More than 26,000 small businesses in Maryland have been awarded loans through a program created as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package called the CARES Act, data from the Small Business Administration shows.

According to a report from the SBA, 26,068 businesses in Maryland got more than $6.5 billion as part of the Paycheck Protection Program as of noon on Thursday.

The $349 billion program offers forgivable loans to businesses that keep employees on their payroll for eight weeks. The money is designed to cover payroll expenses as well as things like rent and utility payments.


Nationwide, nearly 1.7 million businesses shared $342 billion in funding. The vast majority — nearly three-quarters — of loans were for $150,000 or under, the report said.

The largest share of the funds — just over 13 percent — went to businesses in the construction industry. Retailers and foodservice businesses each got around nine percent of the funds — $29.4 billion and $30.5 billion respectively.

In Washington, D.C., 3,253 businesses got nearly $1.25 billion, while in Virginia, more than 40,000 businesses shared more than $8.7 billion.

Despite starting with $349 billion, the SBA said it is no longer accepting new applications due to a lack of funding.

READ MORE: Judge Denies Injunction Against Bank Of America In Lawsuit Over Coronavirus Small Business Stimulus Program

The program has also drawn controversy; in Maryland, several businesses sued Bank of America, one of the banks tasked with doling out the money on the government’s behalf, calling the bank’s plan to prioritize existing customers for the funds unfair. Bank of America said doing so would help speed up the process and get more money to businesses faster.

Elsewhere, CBS News reports some large businesses got millions of dollars through the program, including the owner of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse who reportedly got $20 million.

READ MORE: Paycheck Protection Program billions went to large companies and missed virus hot spots

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.