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Responding to Adenovirus and Mold at the University of Maryland


Overview

  • We remain deeply saddened by the death of one of our students, Olivia Paregol. Olivia’s death is a tragedy, and our hearts and our thoughts have been with Olivia’s family and friends since her passing.
  • The university is confident that we exceeded public health practices in the handling of adenovirus on our campus. Our approach to reporting, coordinating with health officials, and communicating with our campus community exceeded Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.
  • Vice President for Student Affairs Linda Clement requested an external review of protocols, policies, procedures and responses to adenovirus cases. The findings support the university’s approach.
  • Among our many actions regarding mold in campus buildings, we consulted with and followed the recommendations of the University of Maryland Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk; the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding mold remediation practices.
  • Plans for moisture control include upgrades to our HVAC systems and installing additional dehumidifiers. These actions are underway in an effort to reduce mold in the future.

Message from President Wallace D. Loh

Dear University of Maryland community,

Today, the Washington Post published a story about the death of Olivia Paregol, a first-year student who died on November 18, 2018. We are heartbroken by Olivia’s death and continue to mourn her passing. I have offered condolences on behalf of the University to Olivia’s parents and continue to think of her family. Her many friends on campus mourn along with them.

It is important to convey to you that the health and safety of our campus community is of paramount importance. The University, the Division of Student Affairs, and the University Health Center strive to make our campus a healthy and safe place to learn and to live.

I would like to make clear, as is included in the Post story, that the University coordinated closely with state and county health officials on adenovirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), adenoviruses are common viruses that cause a range of illnesses. Its presence is common in any community of our size. Our approach to reporting, testing, cleaning and communicating about the virus was coordinated with health officials, and exceeded CDC guidelines.

As reported in the Post, once the presence of a specific, serious strain of adenovirus -- called adenovirus 7 -- was confirmed by the CDC on November 19, the Maryland Department of Health authorized communicating this update to campus. The University Health Center communicated this update to campus within 24 hours.

We want to provide clarification and further information related to the University’s response to adenovirus and mold:

  1. Last fall, our approach to reporting adenovirus, coordinating with public health officials, and communicating with our campus community exceeded CDC guidelines.
  2. We have compiled information on a website about adenovirus, mold in residence halls, and other issues raised in the Washington Post article. You can find those details at https://umd.edu/responding-adenovirus-and-mold-university-maryland.
  3. Earlier this spring, Student Affairs initiated an external review of our protocols and responses to adenovirus by two external medical experts--one, an infectious disease expert and the other the director of a university’s health center. The findings of their review support the University’s approach and actions.
  4. Among our many actions regarding mold on campus, we consulted with and followed the recommendations of the University of Maryland Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk; the federal Environmental Protection Agency; and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding mold remediation practices. We have developed and begun to implement a comprehensive moisture control plan that addresses high humidity and mold in the residence halls. The plan includes accelerated building renovations, HVAC upgrades, and foundation waterproofing along with immediate measures such as window replacements, dehumidifiers, and piping insulation.

We are confident that our actions last fall were appropriate and timely. And, we continue to make improvements to our residence halls to ensure the well-being of current and future students.

If there are questions about the University’s response to mold and adenovirus, please contact studentaffairs@umd.edu. The University is prepared to answer questions and make connections to appropriate resources.

Sincerely,

Wallace D. Loh
President


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