FREEHOLD, N.J. (CN) – The Monmouth County Courthouse was shut down Friday and again Monday after people fell ill from an unknown irritant, and will remain closed through today as tests are conducted.
Officials closed the courthouse around noon Friday after roughly a dozen people complained of nausea and shortness of breath.
The complaints continued Monday. More people were taken to hospitals and the courthouse closed early again.
Emergency vehicles were sent to the courthouse, including a county HazMat team, according to a resident who witnessed Monday’s situation but declined to provide his name. He said a makeshift triage center was set up to treat several people outside of the courthouse.
“We weren’t sure what we were dealing with,” said Richard Mackesy, a spokesman for Centrastate Medical Center. “Everyone (who came in) was decontaminated, treated and released.”
Mackesy said that many of the symptoms reported resembled bad cases of allergies and that the hospital is still waiting on Monmouth County to find out what they’re dealing with.
“We received about 30 people with runny noses, eyes and respiratory challenges but no one was admitted,” Mackesy said.Monmouth County issued a statement saying the courthouse was tested for dust, pollen and mold on carpets, fabrics and desks, and was checked for leaks in vents, to rule out causes related to housekeeping, construction and general maintenance.
Friday’s initial emergency was attributed to some cut flowers brought in by a courthouse employee, but that has since been ruled out by authorities.
Tests will continue today and then the courthouse will be cleaned again, according to the county’s statement.