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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Baylor teacher Dr. Elizabeth Forrester, stands in her lab area in Baylor School on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Last Friday Dr. Forrester and her teaching colleague Dr. Dawn Richards were able to confirm that with Baylor's Schools lab equipment, they would be able to run tests to determine whether or not someone has coronavirus.

We have long trumpeted Chattanooga for its myriad assets. We're proud of where we live.

We back-slap to our moniker of the "Greatest Town Ever." We high-five the decade-plus growth spurred in large part by VW and a serious commitment to technology.

The city's achievements range from click-baity news items to career-making innovations.

But in all that time, whether it was luring industry or kick-starting a part of town or celebrating our natural outdoors, Wednesday offered quite possibly the best example of local government hustling to solve a critical problem.

In an empty County Commission chamber, at the urging of Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, a skeleton crew of commissioners voted to spend $1.5 million to lease the labs at Baylor School to aid in the testing for COVID-19.

This was not a "close the Great Clips and the tattoo parlor" precaution. This is not a "let's write a check" form of solution.

Granted, both of those are needed in some form right now.

Realizing that Baylor scientists were making significant progress in coronavirus testing, the commission — which barely had a quorum Wednesday with Chip Baker, Tim Boyd, Warren Mackey, Greg Martin and David Sharpe all voting for the decision — and Coppinger acted.

Decisively. Quickly. Properly.

In fact, they did more than that. They led, and addressed what could be a major weapon in our city's fight against coronavirus.

It's been pretty easy to beat up on government leaders for a while now. Heck, most of them continue to reload the water guns with which they get soaked, and do it more times than not with permanent ink.

The dire need for more tests — and quicker results — are undeniable, maybe the only universally agreed-upon part of this pandemic.

In fact, the six commissioners, seated appropriately several feet apart, have not always seen eye to eye.

Putting aside idealogical differences in this fight would seem fairly easy, but if you look at the other levels of our government, it's clear that it's anything but easy right now.

By partnering with the successes that Baylor has found in its lab, Hamilton County could very soon start testing as many as 300 people a day for coronavirus — with the results known in hours, rather than weeks.

It's a reminder of the great Truman quote, "It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit."

And the brilliance of those at Baylor School deserves praise.

In a time when we are seeking direction, comfort and confidence that we are a community, state and nation moving toward a solution, our county leaders deserve credit for embracing this opportunity.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com and follow him on Twitter at @jgreesontfp.

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Jay Greeson
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