California learns costly pandemic lesson about hospitals

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California spent nearly $200 million to set up, operate and staff alternate care sites that ultimately provided little help when the state’s worst coronavirus surge spiraled out of control last winter. It was a costly way to learn that California’s hospital system is far more elastic than was thought at the start of the pandemic. The system was able to expand enough to accommodate most patients during the dire surge that saw hospitalizations top 20,000 and nearly 700 people die weekly. Officials say they have since learned to be more flexible and work more closely with the existing medical system.

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