As a regional surge in Covid-19 cases continues, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital officials urged further caution and announced that they had requested the state to test for virus variants among Island positive tests samples.

The Island has reported more than 150 new cases of the virus in the past 14 days, and more than 100 in the past week — the highest totals since the pandemic began.

Health agents are now reporting case numbers three times per week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. According to an update released Wednesday afternoon, the Island has reported 32 new confirmed positive cases since its Monday report, and six new probable cases. Fifteen new cases were reported on Wednesday alone.

“The majority of these cases are among those who are younger than 40 years of age,” hospital CEO Denise Schepici said. “This is concerning because this spike is occurring in many places around the country, but seems to be the highest in Massachusetts.”

“Now is not the time to let our guard down,” she added.

At the bi-weekly briefing, which included chief nurse and head of hospital operations Claire Seguin, officials said that they had sent positive Covid-19 samples off to the state epidemiology lab to test for virus variants among the Island population.

The testing process takes approximately one week, Ms. Seguin said, with the hope that results could come back as soon as Friday.

“We do not know yet if any of the variants of the virus have crossed over to the Island,” Ms. Seguin said. “We have asked the state to do further testing.”

According to hospital officials, virus variants can be more virulent, more contagious and have often been tied to causing more serious forms of the illness. The P.1 virus variant has shown spread on Cape Cod, and the state has the highest rate of the variant in the country.

“We’re very worried about it,” Ms. Seguin said. “Especially when you have a lot of cases come back positive all at once, you do worry that there’s a more virulent version of COVID-19 on the Island.”

There are currently no patients hospitalized with the virus, and no recent off-Island medical transfers have been made, officials said.

Officials said that the return of seasonal labor forces could be a factor in the recent spread, although they cautioned against making broader generalizations.

“I think it’s just people getting lax again,” Ms. Schepici said.

Meanwhile, hospital officials said that although more than 600 first-dose Covid-19 vaccination appointments had been made available during Monday’s sign-up — far more than the previous three weeks — there were still substantial questions about the vaccine shortage and future availability as eligibility is set to expand.

The hospital had previously been using most of its weekly vaccine allocation for second-dose shots. But second-dose shots have now caught up, allowing for more first-dose shots to become available, officials explained. The hospital has continued to receive approximately 1,200 to 1,300 vaccine doses per week, even as eligibility grows.

“The number of first doses and second doses are getting really close to each other, which means that we’ll have more first doses available even if our cadence doesn’t change,” Ms. Seguin said.

The hospital has now provided 7,125 first doses, and 7,015 second doses. Currently, all residents 55 and older, as well as those with one co-morbidity and certain essential workers are eligible for the vaccine. By April 19, all state residents 16 and older will be eligible.

“We continue to work with our state and Island partners to get more vaccine to the Island,” Ms. Schepici said. “Patience is perhaps the best antidote for those who have not received their vaccine yet.”

Hospital officials continued to stand by their first-come, first-served online sign-up process, saying that although they are considering a pre-registration system they have not decided to make any changes. They pointed to state numbers showing that Dukes County is among the top counties in the commonwealth regarding vaccines.

But they also said that they have pleaded with state and federal officials for more vaccines, noting that the Island only has one vaccination site and that visitors were planning to come for the summer months, which are fast approaching.

Officials also said that they have been working with State Sen. Julian Cyr and Rep. Dylan Fernandes, as well as federal partners, to try to increase vaccine availability.

According to hospital officials, Biden administration policy is to allocate 50 per cent of all vaccines to CVS and Walgreens. But the closest CVS or Walgreens pharmacy is a 45-minute ferry ride away from Martha’s Vineyard.

“I’m blue in the face from saying that,” Ms. Seguin said.

“We keep hoping and pushing that, with the seasonality of the Cape and the Islands that they would recognize that — and the increasing spread here right now — that this is kind of a hotbed,” Ms. Schepici added. “Everybody is advocating for us.”

Updated to include the most recent case totals from Island boards of health.