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Washington Post story today

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 here.

  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, University of Maryland