Lenders face continued difficulties in issuing much-needed financing under an ambitious $349 billion small business relief effort the Trump administration launched a week ago in response to the coronavirus outbreak, leaving mom-and-pop firms at growing risk of failure.

Banks have been intermittently shut out of the government’s loan-processing system, including again Thursday. They’re manually filling out forms -- and are forced to start over if the network freezes. Lenders are especially galled over unclear guidance and confusing paperwork: after questioning the use of a sample loan form dating from 2002, they were told they could use their own documents instead.

“We’re all for the program -- everything about it in theory is right,” said Heidi Brown, executive vice president of Citizens State Bank in Iowa. “But it’s like being sent out to build a house with only three tools in the tool box.”

Customers are coming in or calling constantly because they have either been forced to close or dramatically reduce hours, Brown said, and they’re concerned. “They’re desperate to get in line for the help. Unfortunately we can’t answer all their questions.”

Time is short to rescue small businesses. Filings for U.S. jobless claims reached a three-week total of almost 17 million on Thursday. Lenders, who have been flooded with applications, reported difficulties executing the program from the start, meaning funds are only trickling to firms a week after the initiative launched.

The Paycheck Protection Program, run by the U.S. Small Business Administration, is a signature piece of the $2.2 trillion stimulus enacted last month to contain the economic damage from the pandemic. It offers loans of as much as $10 million that become grants if the money is used for payroll and certain other expenses in the next two months.

The SBA said that more than 587,000 loan applications totaling more than $151 billion have been processed as of Friday morning, but there are no data on how much has actually reached business owners desperate to stay afloat.

Many banks are saying they have a “decent amount” of loans approved, but have yet to actually distribute it, said Julie Huston, chairwoman of the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders, who leads an SBA-approved lender called Immito LLC.

The unprecedented initiative, which was created and launched in a matter of days, is more than 10 times what the SBA’s flagship loan program oversaw last year. Advocates said the agency is trying to get it running smoothly and there were bound to be glitches.

The SBA didn’t comment for the story.

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