Morgan Maner '13
Responding To The COVID-19 Pandemic
After receiving her bachelors in Public Health from Elon University in 2017, Morgan Maner ventured to London, England to attend King's College where she received her Masters of Science in Global Health and Social Justice. She wanted a Global perspective on health and an understanding of healthcare systems in different countries; paired with a social justice component. Her classes were filled with doctors, nurses, philosophers and people of diverse backgrounds. “It was interesting to expand my understanding of global health through my discussions with them. It was also a cool experience to live somewhere else on my own. London is one of the most diverse cities in the world.”
Through her degree, she learned that healthcare is truly a human right and that there is a baseline amount of healthcare that every human being should receive without cost. “Especially living in the United Kingdom, I had a relatively minor respiratory infection and I went to a clinic; walked up to the desk to check out afterwards expecting a payment and they were confused. They were like what are you doing? You can leave. It’s inspiring to see that potential for the United States, where many, many people who don’t have health insurance. And as we’ve seen with the pandemic, it’s absolutely critical.”
Morgan is the Project Director of a research project that was given a RADx-Up Grant by the National Institutes of Health. The work will consist of interviewing incarcerated people, correctional staff and medical staff about the ethics of COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. It will also test thousands of incarcerated people, correctional and medical staff in prisons in a few key states in the U.S. over a period of six months. Morgan will be travelling to Florida in March to oversee this research in several prisons. This work combines her passions for social justice and public health to help a vulnerable population during the COVID-19 pandemic. She explained how shockingly terrible cases are in prisons and how it can take weeks to get test results back. She said that there is not a lot of communication with families of people who are incarcerated, “Incarcerated people who are in quarantine or isolation often have limited access to visitation and social resources. I can’t imagine having a family member in prison, not knowing where they are or what resources they have to maintain their mental and physical health.”
Morgan is also the Special Projects Manager for the COVID Prison Project. The COVID Prison Project tracks COVID cases and testing information in prisons in all fifty states, everyday. Advocacy groups have used this data to report on the poor living conditions of incarcerated people that significantly increase the risk of COVID-19, and the COVID Prison Project is widely cited in news articles.
Morgan reflected back on her time at King’s College stating that, “We didn’t really talk about pandemics in detail. It was very much something where we briefly discussed the influenza pandemic of 1918 and we just kind of learned that they can happen. The pandemic has been a shock to us all, but I am really grateful to have a public health background to understand what’s going on and maybe be of help to other people. I think it’s really important that we use what we’ve learned in this pandemic to prepare for the next infectious disease outbreak, because unfortunately this COVID-19 pandemic will not be the last.”
Morgan Maner was a member of the 2012 state championship volleyball team and is a graduate of the class of 2013. In 2020, Morgan received a Masters in Medical Sciences from Brown University. She currently works for the UNC School of Medicine.