CLOSE The White House and congressional leaders reached a $484 billion deal to help small businesses, hospitals and coronavirus testing. USA TODAYWASHINGTON – How long does it take for a small business to get a Paycheck Protection Program loan aimed at keeping them afloat through the COVID-19 pandemic? Are lenders required to process PPP applications on a first-come, first-served basis? And how are independent contractors treated?Restaurant owners, retailers and scores of other small business owners continue to wrestle with questions about PPP, which was created in a massive  relief package known as the CARES Act. The legislation’s aim was to prop up the nation’s 30 million small businesses walloped by the social distancing remedies to the coronavirus crisis. The Trump administration has said the program can help small firms, a pillar of the U.S. economy, keep workers on their payrolls.The Small Business Administration program offers firms employing 500 or fewer workers low-interest loans of up to $10 million to cover their costs while they’re shuttered. The portion of the loan that covers eight weeks of expenses does not have to be paid back if at least 75% of the money is spent keeping or rehiring workers. Otherwise, it carries a 1% interest rate and must be

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