CHESHIRE — Twice a month, Cheshire Chamber of Commerce President Yetta Augur sets aside time to host a lunchtime for members.
This event is a get together for a chamber networking group which started well before she headed the chamber, said Augur. Meet-ups proved popular enough to continue all these years and through to today.
“It’s a fantastic group and we truly help each other,” she said.
Topics and chamber members change from meeting to meeting. Chamber member Ashely Rendon chairs the group and steers the discussion. Members share news and developments in their businesses and also tips and ideas for promoting success. Rendon also offers regular book reviews and a variety of topics related to business.
“We also always try to include an educational element,” Augur said.
At the Jan. 11 meeting, Kate Glendon, Chesprocott Health District public health specialist, gave a COVID update to the group. Members attending included Philip Newton, Brette Stern, Landa Mauriello-Vernon, and Rick Ciaburri.
When it comes to increasing COVID numbers, “We’re no different than any other town,” said Glendon, relaying the latest COVID statistics. In the period of the two weeks, new COVID numbers totaled 293 the week of Jan. 3 and more than 400 new cases the week of Jan. 8-14. These numbers are for Cheshire only and include COVID cases for minors. Glendon said health agencies continue to receive clarification on guidance in areas of sports, kids in the home, isolation best practices and masks.
“We are looking for COVID numbers to peak and go down,” said Glendon. As health agencies go into year three of contract tracing, she acknowledged that everyone is “super fatigued.” This brings mental health issues to the forefront, especially when “we are working more, likely because we are more accessible,” Glendon said, adding that the ratio of work-to-leisure can become unbalanced.
This is where businesses, managers, and owners, can have a positive influence in the workplace, said Glendon. Businesses can do something different; find ways to make work fun and change things up, including acknowledging mental fatigue and talking openly about the topic of mental health. Ideas to lift spirits and help erase mental fog or fatigue might include taking spontaneous breaks, providing lunch to employees, having an exercise session, or creating a company-wide business book read.
Employees could also try to meet safely outdoors, even if it’s in a garage or a parking lot. If possible, employers can take time to acknowledge and celebrate birthdays of employees.
Glendon said to make it a priority to do things for fun when not at work as a way to power down and separate from the work stream. Meditation apps are helpful tools for relaxation, she said, also suggesting the CT 211 website as a helpful resource for mental health and overall healthcare.
Dealing with winter on top of the ongoing pandemic is another challenge. Augur highlighted the importance of getting outside each day to “get your vitamin D” with a sunshine break. References to winter vacations and activities pre-COVID were discussed, although the pandemic makes getting away harder.
Mauriello-Vernon, who owns a travel agency, said cruises have enacted stricter protocols, which can include the number of bookings. One recent cruise vacationer was on a ship that holds 2,700 people, yet the cruise only had 440 people on it, she said.