The head of North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mandy Cohen, said on Wednesday that the state is trying to keep child care centers open for health care employees, firefighters, and other so-called “front-line” workers.

But the state is also telling child care centers they need to obtain permission from DHHS if they want to remain open or re-open during the pandemic. They have until March 31st to apply.  Centers that stay open must agree to stricter guidelines.

The advocacy group NC Child is recommending the state close child care centers while establishing special locations for emergency workers. The group is also warning that supply shortages may make it difficult for those emergency centers to follow state guidelines.

DHHS spokeswoman Kelly Haight Connor told the News and Observer that the state has set up a hotline to connect frontline workers with child care centers, but did not answer questions about possible closures or how the state might offer help for those that remain open.

For the most up-to-date information on coronavirus in North Carolina, visit our Live Updates blog here.

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