WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — This weekend thousands from around the nation will roll into Wichita Falls for the 40th Annual Hotter’N Hell Hundred, but some are concerned about hosting an event of this size in the midst of rising COVID-19 cases.
“We had a lot of discussions in the executive committee about the safety of holding the event and since most of what we do is outside and we’ve got a ridership that we feel is really a safe group of people we expect that the majority of the folks are probably vaccinated and have been very careful leading up to Hotter’n Hell,” Chip Filer, Executive Director of Hotter’N Hell Hundred said.
But despite the potential number of vaccinated riders, Public Health District Director Lou Kreidler says she is still worried.
“I’m extremely concerned about, what, bringing over 6,000 riders, all of those individuals and who comes with them into our community,” Kreidler said.
While much of the event is outdoors, there are still indoor events like the packet pick up, spaghetti dinner and trade show that could become a COVID hot spot.
“The entire event is high risk, what’s outside or when you’re outside is less of a risk than when you’re inside,” Kreidler said.
With more than 8,000 riders already registered, it’s expected to be one of the largest rides yet, but Filer says some riders aren’t taking the chance this year.
“We’ve experienced a number of folks who have called us and said they’re not coming and that they are going to defer to 2022,” Filer said.
A decision Kreidler says is the right call to make if you aren’t feeling well.
“If you’re symptomatic please don’t come to the Hotter’N Hell even if you already paid for the event. Think about yourself and all those people you’re going to be in contact with,” Kreidler said.
Kreidler and Filer want to remind the community to enjoy the event but do it in a safe way.
“We always say that the Hotter’N Hell hundred really belongs to the community,” Filer said.
“We just need to be cognizant that we’re in the middle of a spike of numbers, our hospital beds are full, our ICU is full and hospitals across the state are full,” Kreidler said.
A historic ride these health and Hotter’n Hell officials hope goes off without a hitch.
Directors say there will be sanitation stations and masks at rest stops and there won’t be any cross handling of water bottles this year.