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’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.”
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.