COVID-19 unit at Cox Medical Center South closes for third time since the start of the pandemic. (Photo: Cox Medical Center South)

On Monday, the Cox Medical Center South’s dedicated COVID-19 unit closed its doors for the third time since the start of the pandemic. 

“This is a tremendous relief and gives us a great sense of hope,” CoxHealth CEO Steve Edwards tweeted Monday morning. 

The unit, which has grown to hold as many as 81 patients, was built in a former storage space in the hospital’s West Tower in December of 2020. Constructed in a matter of weeks, the utilitarian unit has been filled to capacity at times during the course of the pandemic. 

When at capacity, like during the July 2021 spread of the Delta variant through the Springfield area, CoxHealth medical teams, traveling staff, ailing patients and medical equipment filled the open space with noises. The unit closed briefly in February and October of 2021, but reopened in response to influxes of patients with health issues stemming from contracting COVID-19. A post on CoxHealth’s Facebook page asks the community to do its part in trying to keep the doors closed for good this time. 

“Our hope is that the unit will stay closed but in order to keep it that way, we encourage our community to remain vigilant,” the post reads. “A multilayered approach to infection prevention, including vaccines and boosters, remains the best defense for ourselves and our community.”

Seven-day rolling averages of COVID-19 cases have decreased sharply since late January, the height of the Omicron variant surge, when over 700 Greene County residents were testing positive for the virus each day. Just under 55 residents are testing positive per day according to the latest seven-day average available on the Springfield-Greene County Health Department’s COVID-19 recovery dashboard. Though the Cox South COVID-19 unit closed, on Monday 64 patients have tested positive for COVID-19 who are receiving treatment throughout the CoxHealth system.

Cory Matteson

Cory Matteson moved to Springfield in 2022 to join the team of Daily Citizen journalists and staff eager to launch a local news nonprofit. He returned to the Show-Me State nearly two decades after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to arriving in Springfield, he worked as a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star and Casper Star-Tribune. More by Cory Matteson