Regents to Begin Probe Into College Park Student’s Adenovirus Death

The University System of Maryland’s Wilson S. Elkins Building

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents met in a hastily called closed session conference call Friday afternoon, following a call a day earlier by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) for the panel to investigate the circumstances around a college freshman’s death from adenovirus last November.

Olivia Paregol died last Nov. 18 after a weeks-long battle with adenovirus, which has symptoms similar to the flu, but can be dangerous in certain strains or for immunocompromised people, like Paregol. She was initially treated for a bacterial infection after living in a dormitory infested with mold, though reporting from The Washington Post indicates that knowledge of the adenovirus outbreak and earlier treatment by antiviral medications might have changed Paregol’s medical outcome.

Hogan issued a letter Thursday blasting the university system’s response so far and calling for a deeper investigation.

“I know the board shares both in the Governor’s sympathy for the family and – given the many questions that continue to be raised – the need for a thorough review of the circumstances surrounding Olivia’s death,” Board of Regents Chairwoman Linda Gooden was expected to say at one of two closed session calls with Regents on Friday afternoon.

The purpose of the calls – among board officers and then the full board – was to “start the process of reviewing and discussing the options for working with University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh and his executive team to see that a thorough and transparent investigation takes place.”

Gooden’s statement said that she’s reached out to Paregol’s family on behalf of the board, which soon hopes to meet with them to share condolences, concern and plans for moving forward.

“Those of us who are parents can only imagine the grief and sorrow they must be experiencing,” Gooden’s statement says.

The statement doesn’t specify when Gooden reached out to the family.

Gooden’s statement says that the Board of Regents has received three briefings from Loh since December about Paregol’s death.

The statement also said that University System of Maryland Chancellor Robert Caret has asked every campus in the system to review policies, practices and communications related to incidents of infectious disease and environmental hazards. Officials have said the College Park campus met legal requirements for notifying students, though the lack of public statements about the outbreak as it spread has been criticized by Paregol’s family and others.

Gooden’s statement also said that the university system will increase focus on the health and safety and residence halls. Four campuses so far – College Park, UMBC, Towson and Frostburg – increased funding for residence hall safety by $255 million collectively.

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Danielle E. Gaines
Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.

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