The Village of St. Louis. (Lisa Risom/CTV News)

The Saskatchewan Health Authority on Wednesday announced an increased COVID-19 exposure risk in the St. Louis area.

The warning was due to cases linked to events in the community and subsequent spread to household members and other close contacts.

The increased risk is for anyone who may have attended any outdoor recreational events, suppers, poker rallies, or poker card parties outside their family bubble since Christmas.

Mayor Marc Caron is concerned but says he and other council members are not aware of events or family gatherings.

“We are following all the provincial guidelines. I just don’t want St. Louis painted in a negative light.”

He says he doesn’t want negative attention brought on St. Louis similar to what Christopher Lake faced at the start of the pandemic.

“I don’t want that to happen to St. Louis because we did not do anything wrong here. We are a great community,” said Caron.

“We would not do anything blatant to disregard all of the protocols. It would be foolhardy for us to that.”

About 450 people live in the village. Caron says heard of “a few people, under 10,” who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are self-isolating.

He says no events have been sanctioned by the village council or other community groups in the last year except New Year’s eve fireworks.

The curling rink has remained closed this winter and the rink is only open for minor hockey and public skating.

The SHA reports that as of Feb. 4, there are 56 active cases in the North Central 2 subzone, which includes the Village of St. Louis and surrounding rural municipalities.

“A significant number of these cases are St. Louis and immediate area,” said Dr. Khami Chokani, Medical Health Officer for Prince Albert.

Chokani says contact tracing is underway and the events described to the SHA were privately organized gatherings. Contract tracing investigation during and since the holiday season has determined that individuals were attending several different events and activities outside of their households.

“We appreciate the support of the Village of St. Louis council and administration as we encourage everyone to follow the public health orders and public health measures to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19,” said Chokani.

The SHA is providing drop-in testing clinics in St. Louis at the Community Hall on Fri. Feb. 5 and Sun. Feb. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Referrals are not required, but those attending are reminded to bring their health card. People experiencing symptoms are asked to wait 48 hours from onset of symptoms to be tested.

The students of St. Louis Public School were asked prepare to move to at home Level Four learning Feb. 4.

The Saskatchewan Rivers School Division (SRSD) says Pre-K to Grade 12 students will participate in remote learning until Feb. 22.

“The suspension of classes is in response to Public Health recommendations based on the increased rates of community transmissions,” the division says.

The current Public Health Order states that only people who live in the same household can gather indoors.

Outdoor gatherings can have no more than 10 people and people must physically distance.