WASHINGTON (AP) — A top Federal Reserve official on Friday defended the central bank’s efforts to launch a Main Street lending program and said the small number of loans approved so far would likely expand by a significant amount in coming months, especially if the pandemic worsens.

While the Fed reported this week that the program has only made eight loans so far totaling $76.9 million, Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve’s regional bank in Boston, told a congressional oversight panel on Friday that more up-to-date information showed that 54 loans were being considered worth a potential $530 million were under consideration.

Still, even the larger figures fall far short of the up to $600 billion the Fed has said it is prepared to make available to cash-strapped companies.

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