The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that it would keep interest rates near zero for the foreseeable future.

The Fed’s governing body, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) said in a statement that it would keep the target range for the federal funds rate at zero to ¼%, “and expects it will be appropriate to maintain this target range until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the Committee’s assessments for maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2 percent and is on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic is causing tremendous human and economic hardship across the United States and around the world,” the FOMC said. “Economic activity and employment have picked up in recent months but remain well below their levels at the beginning of the year. … The ongoing public health crisis will continue to weigh on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term.”

In addition to keeping interest rates near zero, the Fed announced that it would increase its purchases of Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities “at least at the current pace to sustain smooth market functioning and help foster accommodative financial conditions, thereby supporting the flow of credit to households and businesses.”

A survey of Fed officials found that they predicted rates to remain at or near zero at least through 2023.