Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger recently notified Baylor School officials that the county would no longer be needing the services of the school’s lab or scientists to test COVID-19 samples, effective June 20.
The county now has access to a larger lab that can handle a higher capacity for testing samples. Mayor Coppinger had high praise for Baylor School officials and the lab operators, saying Baylor "filled a huge void" before the state geared up its testing. "We could not have done what we did without them."
The agreement between Hamilton County and Baylor occurred in March, after the Baylor lab became certified as a clinical lab to test COVID-19 samples. The lab was then leased by the county to help with efforts to identify and prevent the spread of the virus. Dr. Elizabeth Forrester and Dr. Dawn Richards, who are trained in molecular biology and in working with viruses, had the specialized equipment in their lab at Baylor to provide the testing assistance and donated their time for the effort. They have processed more than 14,000 tests in the past three months, and have indicated that they plan to continue their service to the community with the testing of vulnerable populations by serving Clinico Medicos and the Homeless Healthcare Center.
Onsite Testing Will Provide Crucial Health and Safety Service for Students, Faculty, and Employees
Baylor has been intensely focused on a safe reopening campus, with classes beginning Aug. 19. As the only school in the region, and perhaps the country, that has the ability to provide rapid turnaround testing for students and employees, Baylor will be able to provide a crucial health and safety service in a time of continued uncertainty.
"It has been our great honor to assist Hamilton County with our community response to this health crisis," said Headmaster Scott Wilson '75. "Having developed this extraordinary clinical testing capacity in a prep school setting speaks to Baylor’s commitment to providing our students with state-of-the art and hands-on scientific instruction and research opportunities. What we never imagined when we launched the Baylor Research program is that it might provide the foundation for helping secure the health and safety of our school family during a pandemic. That has truly been an unforeseen blessing."