Although suspected during the recent Covid-19 surge, the Island’s first detection of the Omicron variant was finally confirmed this week in a sample sent out for sequencing.

“The result is not surprising but provides official confirmation of the presence of the Omicron variant on the Island,” Tisbury health agent Maura Valley said in an email to the Gazette.

Martha’s Vineyard Hospital officials said the detection of Omicron acts as a reminder for Islanders to not let their guard down as the pandemic continues.

“This serves as an important reminder that we need to continue to protect ourselves against the most contagious of the variants by getting vaccinated and wearing masks,” chief nurse and COO Claire Seguin said in a statement Thursday.

The Omicron confirmation comes as the Island’s positive case counts are on the decline after two weeks of record case counts. In their weekly update on Monday, the Island boards of health reported 326 new cases for the week ending Jan. 22, a drop of 131 from the week prior. Still, cases remain far above counts seen throughout 2021.

Through Thursday an additional 91 cases were recorded, Ms. Valley reported.

The hospital reported it was treating two patients for Covid-19 as of Thursday afternoon. Spokeswoman Marissa Lefebvre said in an email that one patient is in fair condition, with the other in good condition.

Additionally, the hospital has opened two drive-through lines on its campus leading to side-by-side tents: one for vaccinations and the other for testing.

In a statement, hospital president and CEO Denise Schepici praised the ongoing work and dedication of staff.

“Our staff at the hospital is truly amazing — they have been working nonstop since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020,” Ms. Schepici said. “Even with additional pressure, they continue to provide exceptional care for our patients, community, and each other.”

Meanwhile, free distribution of at-home test kits resumed Monday, with more regular distribution expected to continue in the coming weeks.

Last week’s distribution was delayed due to global supply change interruptions, but by Saturday new kits had arrived and Island health officials said the distribution will be regular and ongoing.

By Thursday afternoon, a new shipment of tests had yet to arrive, and Ms. Valley said distribution had not yet been scheduled for the week of Jan. 31. However, she said some supply from the latest shipment of tests remains.

“I believe that most towns still have test kits left and will continue with their current distribution schedule while supplies last,” Ms. Valley said.

Boards of health officials stressed the importance of not entering town buildings or standing in line to pick up test kits if experiencing symptoms of illness, even mild cold-like symptoms. Anyone who is symptomatic and would like to obtain a test kit can have a friend or family member pick it up, or call the board of health in the town where they live and make arrangements to obtain a kit.

Well-fitted masks are required to enter town buildings. Arriving early is not necessary. Bring identification showing proof of residency.