Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Paycheck Protection Program no longer seems likely to run out of funds, as daily loan approvals have slowed to less than $2 billion per day.

What happened: Politicians and pundits, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, moved the goalposts. It no longer matters if you can qualify for such a loan, per the original rules. It only matters if the loan is worth enduring media floggings and government threats — all without promised clarity into loan forgiveness.

By the numbers: The SBA reports that $188 billion of the refreshed $311 billion pot was spoken for as of last night, representing loans to 1.2 million small businesses. The average loan size between PPP and PPP2 has fallen from $206,000 to $73,000.

SBA has implemented the program as intended. That's the top-line finding of an Inspector General report released Friday, which had been requested by congressional Democrats.

  • The IG did identify some areas for SBA to improve, including having lenders prioritize underserved and rural markets. But, again, overall it felt SBA was meeting its mandate.

Criticism of larger loan recipients has been bipartisan, with Mnuchin going so far as to threaten investigations and criminal investigations.

  • The common denominator has been frustration that smaller businesses without established banking relationships were shut out of the original PPP, and that it could happen again.
  • That’s why Mnuchin said all would be forgiven if larger recipients just poured their money back into the pool.

The bottom line: Moral suasion worked, judging by the current loan pace. But if PPP 2 ends up with plenty of cash in the till, and unemployment keeps growing, there could be boomerang questions about why some businesses were discouraged from applying for loans that could have kept people on payrolls.

Go deeper ... Mnuchin: White House will decide on more coronavirus relief in "a few weeks

Go deeper

Aug 7, 2020 - Health

Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning

Gov. Cuomo on July 23 in New York City. Photo: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that all school districts across the state can choose to reopen for in-person learning because it has so far maintained low enough coronavirus transmission rates.

Why it matters: It’s another sign that the state, once the global epicenter of the pandemic, has — at least for now — successfully curbed the spread of the virus even as infections have surged elsewhere around the country.

Updated 6 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Australian officials in Victoria announced Sunday 17 more deaths from COVID-19 — a new state and national record.

The big picture: Australia was on track to suppress the novel coronavirus in May, but cases have been spiking in Victoria in recent weeks, where a state of disaster was declared last week, enabling officials to introduce restrictions including a night-time curfew in state capital Melbourne.

Aug 7, 2020 - Health

Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases

A health worker in Nigeria checks students' temperatures on August 4. Photo: Pius Utomi Ekepei/AFP via Getty Images

African countries collectively surpassed 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases this week, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Why it matters: Some health experts believe that the true number of COVID-19 cases among African countries is higher than that figure due to a lack of testing, and fear that undetected cases could overload some of the world’s weakest health systems, according to AP.