Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is calling for an investigation into how University of Maryland, College Park officials handled an outbreak of the adenovirus on campus last fall that led to one student’s death.
Hogan, a Republican, has asked the University System of Maryland Board of Regents to investigate campus officials’ response to the outbreak.
Hogan’s call for an investigation comes after The Washington Post published a report on the outbreak showing it took university officials 18 days to notify students about the virus.
“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.”
Paregol’s father, Ian M. Paregol, said in a statement that the family welcomes Hogan’s call for an investigation.
Ian Paregol said he hopes “a truly independent body” will investigate not only university officials, but the county and state health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He also wants answers about Elkton Hall, a crowded dorm where Olivia lived. Between the lack of notification about adenovirus and the conditions at the dorm, the university showed “a reckless pattern of disregard for the health and safety of staff and students,” Ian Paregol said.
Mike Lurie, a spokesman for the University System of Maryland, said members of the Board of Regents are reviewing Hogan’s request.
“The board shares both in the Governor’s grief for the family and, given the many questions that continue to be raised, the need for a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding the death of Ms. Paregol,” Lurie said in a statement.
University officials defended their response to the disease. In a statement to The Baltimore Sun, the university said the campus community was notified within 24 hours of officials learning Nov. 19 that Paregol was diagnosed with adenovirus 7, a particularly strong strain of the virus.
The Washington Post reported campus health officials were notified of the first student diagnosed with adenovirus on Nov. 1.
University officials were in touch with the state Department of Health as more students were diagnosed. On Nov. 14, a state health official advised in an email that an earlier message to the campus community about preventing illness was sufficient and “we don’t think additional, more specific messaging about adenovirus is necessary at this point in time.”
All told, 40 students were sickened, including 15 treated at hospitals.
In the statement, the university said it “remains committed to transparency” and will work with the regents and the governor’s office on any investigation.
Paregol’s family has filed a notice of a claim against the university, a preliminary step before filing a lawsuit. The family also has set up a Twitter account, @justice4oliviap, to advocate for university administrators to be held accountable for her death.
In his letter to the regents, Hogan invoked another student death from 2018 — that of Terrapins football player Jordan McNair — who suffered a heatstroke during a spring practice and died 15 days later. Medical experts said McNair should have been treated quickly with a cold-water immersion to counteract the heatstroke.
The regents were criticized for initially deciding to retain football coach D.J. Durkin, even after an investigation found widespread dysfunction in the school’s athletic department and allegations of player abuse. (Durkin was later fired by the university president.)
The fallout from McNair’s death included a state law passed this year revamping the Board of Regents and requiring it to operate in a more transparent manner.
Hogan, in his letter, wrote that McNair’s death “brought to light numerous inadequacies in how the university dealt with a medical emergency.”
“Unfortunately,” the governor continued, “I am deeply concerned that the university learned nothing from that troubling and tragic episode.”
The next regents meeting is scheduled for June 21.
This article was updated May 31 to include a statement from Olivia Paregol’s father, Ian M. Paregol.