As a never-before-seen pathogen began cropping up in the region in March 2020, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger and other leaders knew they would need to draw on input from experts if they hoped to guide citizens through an encroaching pandemic.
As COVID-19 became more prevalent, one of the organizations Coppinger was able to rely on was the Hamilton County Medical Society, a local group of administrators and physicians. County leaders were also part of a committee assembled by Gov. Bill Lee.
The first big obstacle was testing, Coppinger recalls. Local officials were able to get testing set up quickly thanks to the cooperative efforts of Baylor School instructors Elizabeth Forrester, a biochemist with a doctorate in cancer biology, and Dawn Richards, a molecular microbiologist.
"(They) had contacted me on a weekend and said, 'Hey, we can do this testing,'" Coppinger said by phone.