U.S. nonfinancial business debt soared in the first quarter by the most on record as loans and corporate bond issuance jumped, underscoring companies’ preparations to deal with the coronavirus fallout.

Firms boosted debt at an annualized 18.8% in the first quarter to a total outstanding $16.8 trillion, which surpassed the level of household debt, according to a Federal Reserve report out Thursday.

At the same time, household net worth fell the most on record, dropping to $110.8 trillion from $117.3 trillion in the prior period, as stock prices collapsed in February and March amid fears of the coronavirus. Federal government debt surged an annualized 14.3%.

In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus outbreak ended the record-long U.S. expansion. Fed policy makers slashed the benchmark interest rate close to zero and the unemployment rate jumped from the lowest in 50 years to the highest since the Great Depression era.

Low interest rates helped spur a rush in corporate borrowing as the pandemic began shutting down businesses and keeping Americans in their homes. Business investment posted the largest quarterly drop since 2009 in the January through March period.

The decline in household net worth was almost entirely due to the decline in the value of equities. Stock prices have since rebounded from their March lows, suggesting net worth will largely recover in the second quarter.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.