Employees sent home early today (Monday) as a precaution
FREEHOLD, NJ – The Monmouth County Courthouse closed at 1 p.m. today and will remain closed tomorrow (Tuesday).
“For the safety and well-being of employees and individuals with business at the courthouse, the county is cooperating with the state Judiciary to close the building,” Deputy County Administrator Kevin Burke said. “Most employees were notified as they returned from their lunch break today. Individuals with business at the courthouse were informed as they arrived at the courthouse.”
Today, more than 60 courthouse employees reported symptoms of illness that included shortness of breath, nausea, chest pain, palpitations, rash and dizziness. A triage and treatment area was established outside of the courthouse where all individuals with symptoms were properly evaluated by emergency medical professionals. Twenty-five people were treated transported to CentraState and Jersey Shore University medical centers for further evaluation. The rest were treated at the courthouse.
Today’s events follow a similar situation late Friday when 17 courthouse employees reported the same general symptoms of illness. Employees who sought medical attention last week all were released. The county has confirmed that several individuals were diagnosed with an allergic reaction.
On Friday it was believed that cut flowers in an employee area of the courthouse’s west wing may have contributed to the symptoms. All cut flowers in the courthouse were removed on Friday, and the State Police Hazardous Materials Unit has now ruled that cause out.
The affected area of the courthouse was thoroughly cleaned over the weekend and the building opened at regular hours this morning before being closed again at 1 p.m.
“If a courthouse employee or anyone having business at the courthouse is experiencing any of the symptoms, we encourage them to go to the emergency room or their private physician,” Burke said. “We also ask that they contact the county health department at 732-431-7456 to report any symptoms.”
This afternoon the State Police HazMat Unit responded in an attempt to further identify the cause related to the reported illnesses. Testing for volatile chemical compounds returned negative results. Tonight, the building will be tested for mold, dust and pollen.
It is believed that there is no danger of person-to-person transmission. Anyone who was at the courthouse today should launder the clothes that they wore separately from other items. Individuals should also shower with soap and water as well.