(Bloomberg) — Bank of America Corp. is preparing for a flood of applications from U.S. small businesses seeking government relief to weather the coronavirus outbreak.“We know for these businesses speed is of the essence,” the bank said in a statement. “We can move fastest with our nearly 1 million small-business borrowing clients. That is our near-term priority. As the administration has made clear, going to your current lending bank is the fastest route.”The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company had staff working overnight Thursday to prepare for expected high volumes of applications Friday. The initiative is part of the $2.2 trillion government stimulus package and is aimed at helping small businesses survive the devastating impact of the pandemic.“We’re setting up shop and activating thousands of people to be able to take the applications,” Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan said in an interview Wednesday on Bloomberg Television. The bank has been heavily involved in talks with the White House and Treasury on the program, he said.On Thursday, the Small Business Administration bumped up to 1% the interest rate lenders may charge small businesses after banks complained that the previous approved rate of 0.5% was below even their own cost of funds.U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza released additional guidelines for the program just a few hours before it’s expected to become widely available Friday.“This is a very important program,” Mnuchin said in a news conference Thursday. “Please bring your workers back to work if you’ve let them go.”(Updates with Mnuchin’s comment in last paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.