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Area business leaders discuss latest COVID-19 closures

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SOUTHINGTON — As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads a new routine is to put off most routines for now. 

For example, routine dental procedures — such as cleanings and fillings — are now on hold. Just ask Dr. Stephanie Urillo, longtime owner of Contemporary Family Dentistry on North Main Street in Southington. 

As of last week, the practice is open for emergency procedures only. 

“If someone has an emergency, I get a voicemail message. I can see that emergency patient,” said Urillo, who also chairs the Plainville-Southington Regional Health District board of directors and serves as president of the Dental Society of Greater Southington. In those capacities, she is well aware of the latest mandates and advisories related to COVID-19. 

Urillo will see patients for procedures like fixing broken teeth and treating dental infections, which she referred to as “true emergencies.”

“You can’t hold off on certain things,” Urillo said, describing COVID-19 as an “invisible” public health threat. 

“People can be asymptomatic and test positive for it,” she said. “You don’t want to expose yourself to the virus.”

Urillo’s decision came before Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s most recent executive order, which was issued Friday. In it, Lamont directed all “non-essential businesses and not-for-profit entities” in Connecticut to prohibit in-person functions if they are able to,” according to a news release.

That order becomes effective at 8 p.m. on Monday. 

“The governor is encouraging all businesses to employ, to the maximum extent possible, any telecommuting or work-from-home procedures that they can safely implement,” the release stated. 

The order excludes some businesses and entities providing services and functions deemed essential, including healthcare, food service and law enforcement. The governor promised further guidance would be released over the weekend. 

Charlie Cocuzza owns Omega Solutions, a technology company based in Southington. Per the governor’s executive order, Omega is an essential business and won’t be required to close Monday night. 

Cocuzza is also chairman of the board of directors for the Southington Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber’s biggest goal, Cocuzza said, “is to make sure we can feed information to our members.”

The chamber’s leadership has been “doing a great job, keeping people informed,” Cocuzza said. That communication has been remote: through emails, phone calls and video conferences.

Cocuzza is hopeful that relief will come to laid off employees and to businesses that have been forced close.

“We all have to get together as a community to ensure that as this goes forward it doesn’t cause any more problems,” Cocuzza said. “We all have to take care of each other.”

Cheshire Chamber of Commerce President Yetta Augur Like is taking a similar approach to her agency’s Southington counterpart.

“The Cheshire Chamber of Commerce is trying to share the most accurate and updated information,” Augur wrote in an email to the Record-Journal.  

“Many of our Board Members are business owners and we are all in this together. We have witnessed businesses helping each other by sharing posts and sharing advice,” Augur wrote. “We are certain that once this passes, we will come back better and stronger than ever, and Cheshire Chamber of Commerce will be here to help our members and our resilient Community.”

Urillo has struck a balance between providing patient care and following the latest mandates and advisories. 

“As dentists, we're doing everything we can while keeping the public safe, while keeping our patients healthy,” she said. 



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