California was the first state to lock down and avoided overwhelming its hospitals. Nine months later, its leaders are struggling as conditions worsen

At the San Joaquin hospital in California’s Central Valley, nurses cover infectious Covid-19 patients with clear, tent-like barriers – or, when those aren’t available, white sheets – as they’re wheeled through the ICU.

“It’s for everybody’s protection,” said Jessica Vasquez, an ICU nurse at the hospital – the sheets ensure that infection doesn’t spread to other patients and medical staff. But like so many of the protocols that the hospital has implemented since the coronavirus pandemic struck, it feels uncanny.

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