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Charlotte at-home daycare faces second crisis in matter of weeks after tornado, coronavirus crisis

A Charlotte daycare is closed just a week after re-opening after a tornado ripped it apart. The owner made the difficult decision to close due to COVID-19 concerns.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The last couple of weeks have been brutal for Sherri Wellman after a tornado ravaged her at-home daycare in February. She since reopened but is closed again as she tries to protect her kids from the coronavirus outbreak. 

"This has not been our year," Wellman said. "It's been a roller coaster."

In early February, WCNC Charlotte shared Wellman's story of survival after she, her husband, and five babies managed to escape as a tree fell on the daycare.

RELATED: Babies safe after tornado destroys Charlotte daycare

She scrambled to find a place to have a temporary at-home daycare, knowing she wouldn't have an income until she did. 

A house became available across the street from her damaged home. She created another at-home childcare facility and had it opened for a week and two days before she made the hard decision to close. 

Wellman said with daycares, there's no social distancing during the outbreak. Instead, it's one big play-date.

RELATED: Gov. Cooper: All public K-12 schools in North Carolina to close for two weeks

"I just thought we all just need to take time and have a couple weeks apart just to kind of see if anybody potentially has it," she said. 

She had been following the coronavirus outbreak since January when it hadn't quite made it to the U.S. yet. 

However, the tornado got her mind off of it for a while as she tried to focus on reopening her workplace. 

Now, she's in a similar financial pinch as she was before. 

"Right now, it's just a monetary thing obviously," Wellman said. "Thankfully right now, my husband is still working." 

Currently, there are roughly 4,500 childcare facilities across North Carolina, according to the state government. At least 1,500 are still open as the virus continues to spread, with 1,300 childcare facilities closed.

As WCNC reported on Wednesday, state officials said they want to open free public childcare for first responders and healthcare worker's kids. 

RELATED: Here's why some daycares in North Carolina are still open

"We're trying to develop what it would look like within each district if we needed to open a childcare facility on short notice to help with the overflow for front-line workers, their children," said Dr. David Stegall, North Carolina's Deputy Superintendent of Innovation. 

Wellman understands that need and promises to re-evaluate in two weeks. 

"I just want to know my families are well, and my family is well," she said. 

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