Hogan calls for investigation of U.Md. handling of adenovirus outbreak

Maryland’s governor has called for the University System of Maryland Board of Regents to investigate the handling of the adenovirus outbreak at the College Park campus that led to the death of a student.

The office of Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement that the action was prompted by a Washington Post report that campus leadership waited 18 days to tell students and parents about the virus.

The virus led to the death of student Olivia Paregol, 18, last November.

In a letter to the Board of Regents, Hogan brought up the heat-related death of another U.Md. student, football player Jordan McNair, 19, after a workout last year.

“Mr. McNair’s death rightfully prompted multiple investigations and brought to light numerous inadequacies in how the university dealt with a medical emergency,” Hogan said. “Unfortunately, I am deeply concerned that the university learned nothing from that troubling and tragic episode.”

Hogan cited media reports saying that officials held onto information about adenovirus cases to students and families for weeks.

“It appears that, at just about every turn, leaders withheld information …. There must be a full review of these decisions, and of the officials who made them,” he said.

Paregol’s family earlier this month began taking the steps necessary to file a lawsuit against the school.

In the letter, Hogan said, “The Paregol family’s grief has been considerably worsened by the lack of urgency — and lack of transparency — shown by university officials before and after Olivia’s death. There are serious questions about how this happened, and the families who entrust their children to your care deserve your assurance that they will receive answers.”

Hogan also asked that the results of the review be made public.

Regents respond

The Board of Regents said in a statement later Thursday afternoon that they’ve received Hogan’s letter and “will review and discuss the options for meeting the Governor’s directive and will work with President Loh and the executive team at the College Park campus to see that a thorough and transparent investigation takes place.”

They also said they’ve met with President Wallace Loh and the health staff at the College Park campus on the adenovirus situation, and that Chancellor Robert Caret has asked all University System of Maryland presidents to review their policies on infectious diseases and environmental hazards.

“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,” the statement said.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, the Paregol family thanked Hogan for his action and laid out several aspects of the university’s response they hoped would be investigated, including the degree to which the school followed their own policies on infectious disease, and their claim that the university “failed to realize that immune-suppressed students, like Olivia, would be in even greater danger.”

They hoped that the review would be carried out by “a truly independent body.”

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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