USM Board of Regents approves plan for investigation of adenovirus outbreak

Elkton Hall, one of the dorms hit hardest by a mold outbreak last fall. It was home to Olivia Paregol, a freshman who died of a serious strain of adenovirus in November. (Alexis Jenkins / For the Diamondback)

The University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents released details on Friday about its planned investigation into how the University of Maryland’s handled an adenovirus outbreak on the campus last fall.

In a press release, the board laid out the questions the investigation would attempt to answer. The probe will focus on establishing a “comprehensive timeline” of events spanning from August 2018 until the end of the fall semester, documenting the outbreak and the university’s response.

“We expect this work to be thorough and independent,” Regents chair Linda Gooden said in the release, “and that it will eventually inform health and safety policies at campuses throughout the system.”

Freshman Olivia Paregol died of complications from the virus in November 2018. She lived in Elkton Hall, one of the dorms hardest hit by a mold outbreak that plagued the campus last fall.

Paregol had Crohn’s disease, and the medication she took for it compromised her immune system. In May, The Washington Post released an in-depth analysis of the university’s response to the virus — in which it did not inform students about the outbreak until 18 days after university officials learned of it — and to Paregol’s death.

The Post reported that Paregol’s parents were not informed of the outbreak until just before their daughter was on her deathbed, and that they feel earlier awareness could have given them more time to save her. Officials, meanwhile, had discussed notifying students who had compromised immune systems — as well as those who lived in Elkton — but decided against it, according to the Post.

The investigation will also look at the University Health Center’s service during the period, and the way the university communicated with public health agencies.

The Regents vowed to investigate the outbreak last month after Gov. Larry Hogan called for it.

“I called for this investigation last month so that we can get all the facts for the Paregol family and the University of Maryland community,” Hogan wrote in a tweet on Friday. “I am relieved to hear that action is finally being taken.”

The board expects to announce the list of investigators by the end of the month but did not announce an exact date for the investigation to begin.

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