U. Md. plans extensive cleaning in residence halls to combat adenovirus

Capital Gazette reporter and sports writer John McNamara was remembered Tuesday, July 10, 2018 at the University of Maryland-College Park. (WTOP/Kristi King)

WASHINGTON — Residence hall rooms, suites and apartments at the University of Maryland in College Park will undergo disinfectant cleaning Jan. 7 following an outbreak of adenovirus that has killed one student and sickened at least 30 since the first case was detected Nov. 1.

Freshman Olivia Paregol of Glenwood, Maryland, died Nov. 18 of complications from adenovirus.

The 18-year-old was taking an immunosuppressive drug to combat Crohn’s disease, making her particularly susceptible to severe illness after infection.

“The cleanup subterfuge is way too little and way too late,” said Ian Paregol, Olivia’s father. “They knew of the first adenovirus case six weeks ago on Nov. 1, and they aren’t cleaning until January.”

The university says it began disinfecting frequently touched surfaces in public areas of residence halls Nov. 7. (A university official was not immediately available for further comment.)

The school informed the campus community last week that hired contractors will conduct the disinfecting over winter break. Cleaning crews will use germicidal disposable wipes to disinfect frequently touched surfaces, including doorknobs, desk and dresser tops, light switches and faucets. Toilet bowls, showers, sinks and bathroom floors will also be cleaned.

Students have been asked to clear off desks, dressers and other level surfaces for the disinfecting. Students who do not want their rooms disinfected may opt out of the process by notifying the university by Dec. 18.

The school waited too long, Paregol said, to warn his daughter and other students about the virus.

“It’s time they came clean and admit they have failed at a number of levels,” Paregol said.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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