Q&A: Central Florida doctor breaks down state’s current COVID-19 situation

Doctor: Continue social distancing, mask wearing even as vaccine distribution begins

Dr. Daniel Snediker, with Poinciana Medical Center, has spent 15 years in emergency medicine and says his job has always presented new challenges.

POINCIANA, Fla. – Dr. Daniel Snediker, with Poinciana Medical Center, has spent 15 years in emergency medicine and says his job has always presented new challenges.

“We feel this is our calling to do this,” Snediker said.

Snediker says expecting the unexpected is part of the job and this year was no different.

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“We’ve had mass casualty incidents at hospitals I’ve worked at, so, you know, we’re used to it in emergency medicine, “ he said. ”It never gets easier.”

The coronavirus pandemic certainly threw Snediker and his colleagues another curveball.

“It’s just kind of the never-ending fear of, we don’t want to get sick, we don’t want to get our families sick, so I think that’s kind of the biggest challenge,” he said.

As coronavirus cases continue to climb in Florida, Snediker says the emergency department at Poinciana Medical Center is also seeing an uptick in infections, and he doesn’t expect the numbers to improve in the coming weeks.

News 6 morning anchor and health reporter Kirstin O’Connor asked the doctor about the state of Florida’s hospitals.

“We keep hearing from the state level that our hospitals are OK, and we’re not in danger of overcrowding,” O’Connor pointed out.

Snediker says Florida’s coronavirus situation appears to be just behind other states where the pandemic seems to be reaching new highs.

According to the Agency for Health Care Administration, about 23% of Florida’s hospital beds are available and as of Monday more than 4,930 were occupied by COVID-19 patients.

“You know, I would say that we’re just lagging behind the rest of the country. We are seeing an increase in all of our counties, we’re just not at the same level as they are in other states, like New Mexico, or in the Midwest, so I’m not certain it’s the care we’re providing, it’s just we are going to see an uptick in the next few weeks,” he said.

Snediker said as the first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine arrive, precautions still need to remain in place.

“I would certainly encourage people to get the vaccine, I mean vaccines are well tested. They’ve generally been very safe over the years. I think the one thing about the vaccine is we need to realize is it’s not going to be widely available for some time, so even when the vaccine is rolled out, we still need to maintain social distancing, wearing masks, all the usual things,” he said.

According to the latest numbers from the Florida Department of Health, Florida has reported more than 1.12 million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. The first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to be administered in Florida were given out Monday, just days after the FDA approved emergency use of the shot in the U.S.

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