University of Maryland officials say they will investigate student's death from adenovirus

A day after Gov. Larry Hogan called for an investigation into how University of Maryland officials handled an outbreak of the adenovirus that led to the death of a freshman in College Park, officials from the University System Board of Regents say they have started the process.

The board came to no conclusions about how to proceed, but the chair, Linda Gooden, read a statement to members convened on the phone that said there was a need for a thorough review of the circumstances of Olivia Paregol’s death “given the many questions that continue to be raised.”


She said, “Our discussion today, in closed session, will start the process of reviewing and discussing the options for working with President [Wallace] Loh and his executive team to see that there is a thorough, independent and transparent investigation of the work he and his team have done. Again, our thoughts remain with the Paregol family as we begin this important work.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan wants an investigation of how the University of Maryland handled an outbreak of adenovirus that left one student dead.

Gooden noted that since the outbreak and student death in November, the board has been briefed three times by Loh and other executives and that infectious disease policies system-wide have been reviewed internally. Four campuses within the system, including College Park, have already allocated or approved additional funding totaling more than $225 million to health and safety measures.


The governor was responding to a report in The Washington Post that university officials took 18 days in November to notify the campus that a student was diagnosed with the virus, a contagious disease that is normally not fatal but can have a range of symptoms from mild to severe.

The virus typically causes a respiratory infection and pink eye, but can cause more severe symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which does not track cases.

A freshman at the University of Maryland, College Park, died Sunday of complications from adenovirus, and her family is questioning whether the university — which has seen several cases of the illness — could have done more to prevent her death.

In College Park, more than 40 students were sickened, 15 were treated at hospitals and Paregol, an 18-year-old freshman, died.

“It appears that, at just about every turn, leaders withheld information instead of being open and honest with the student body,” Hogan wrote to the regents. “There must be a full review of these decisions, and of the officials who made them.”

He also cited the university’s inadequate response to a previous medical emergency, the death of football player Jordan McNair, who suffered heatstroke during a spring practice and died about two weeks later. An independent review found officials did not quickly move to counter the heatstroke with a cold-water immersion. Football coach DJ Durkin was eventually fired and the Board of Regents revamped.

More than 500 students living in Elkton Hall are being relocated to College Park hotels to allow contractors to clean every room in the building.

The university has defended its response to the adenovirus outbreak. Officials told The Baltimore Sun that the campus was notified less than 24 hours after they learned Paregol was diagnosed with a particularly strong strain, adenovirus 7. The officials were also in touch with the state Department of Health as more students were diagnosed.

Paregol’s father, Ian M. Paregol, has said the family welcomed Hogan’s call for an independent investigation into the response. Paregol also said he wanted the investigation to extend to the response from public health agencies, as well as to the condition of the dorm, Elkton Hall, where his daughter lived. The Paregol family has filed a notice of a claim against the university, a preliminary step before filing a lawsuit.

A spokesman for Hogan, Michael Ricci, said in a statement that the governor was “encouraged” by the board’s action.

“This is certainly a step in the right direction toward getting answers for the Paregol family and the UMD community,” the statement said. “The governor believes that the Board of Regents is the appropriate body to conduct this review, and we are encouraged by today's announcement."

Baltimore Sun reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this article.

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