After a recent surge in Covid-19 cases on the Vineyard, health agents reported 73 new positive tests this week — a slight downturn from the week prior but continuing a major increase from earlier in March.

The 73 new confirmed cases came between Sunday, April 4 and Saturday, April 10, according to health agents. There have now been nearly 180 new Covid-19 cases in the past 14 days after 101 cases were reported last week — the highest total since the pandemic began.

Of the 73 new cases, 51 were tested at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, 18 at TestMV and four at other providers. Health agents said 54 of the cases are symptomatic patients, 10 are asymptomatic, and 14 are unknown.

There are currently 88 active cases of Covid-19 on the Vineyard. Health agents did not report any new clusters of the virus.

According to an online update from the hospital, two patients are currently hospitalized with the virus. Hospital officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the condition of the patients.

In an impromptu news briefing on Friday, hospital officials confirmed that three of the six samples sent to the state epidemiology lab for testing came back positive for the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom. Two of the six results are still pending.

The variant is more contagious and can lead to sicker patients than the original strain of the virus.

Meanwhile, an update on the hospital website said 598 vaccine appointments became available Monday afternoon for Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the upcoming week. Appointments were still available by 5:10 p.m. Monday.

Vaccine eligibility is set to expand to all state residents over the age of 16 on April 17, increasing the pool of eligible Island residents by approximately 9,000, according to census data.

The hospital schedules vaccine appointments bi-weekly, on Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Mondays at 5 p.m. Currently, eligible patients can go to to schedule an appointment.

Online registration has been filling quickly, as all state residents 55 or older are eligible for shots and the hospital continues to receive about 1,300 vaccine doses per week.

The Island vaccine program has slowed since February, as federal supply chain issues and distribution priorities have hampered the rollout and left first-dose vaccine appointments in short supply. The hospital has stated that most of its state-allocated vaccine doses have gone to second-shot doses in the past weeks.

According to the state Department of Public Health, 44 per cent of Dukes County has received a first-dose vaccine shot. Nantucket and Barnstable lead the state, at 46 and 50 per cent respectively, with Dukes County trailing.