The Department of Health is investigating multiple coronavirus clusters — including a potluck at Honolulu Hale that health officials said may be responsible for 11 cases there — as Hawaii’s case numbers inched close to 4,000.
State health officials reported 202 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, including two on Kauai, two on Hawaii island, one on Maui and 197 on Oahu.
The health department reported the deaths of two Oahu men over the age of 60 late Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, health officials said two more men had died on Oahu — both between the age of 40 and 59. One of the men had an underlying health condition.
The state has identified clusters at five restaurants. The clusters involved employees, not customers.
The effective reproduction rate or Rt — also known as the infection rate — is a mathematical model for how many more people a person is predicted to spread the virus to, says Thomas Lee, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Hawaii Manoa.
When an Rt rate is above 1, COVID-19 is likely to spread quickly and that the area should expect to see many more cases.
Rt figures should be looked at with caution, Lee and other health experts say, because there is no standard way to measure the rate of transmission. Still, it’s one of many signs that Hawaii is in a troubling phase of the pandemic.