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In today's Morning Brief, we look at some of the latest COVID-19 modelling in Ontario, and what steps the provincial government might be weighing to fight rising case numbers.

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Ontario's new COVID-19 modelling to show ICUs full by early February: sources

Ontario's latest COVID-19 modelling will project the province's intensive care units to be filled beyond capacity by early February, and will also show how a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus risks accelerating the spread of infections, sources tell CBC News. 

Premier Doug Ford has warned he is ready to impose further restrictions based on the modelling, but no announcement is planned before Tuesday, according to government sources. 

Although the projections by Ontario's scientific advisers were presented to cabinet on Friday, the information is not slated to be made public until Tuesday.

"We are in a desperate situation and when you see the modelling, you'll fall off your chair," Ford said Friday during a news conference filled with dire warnings of what Ontario faces from COVID-19.

Multiple sources who have seen the modelling tell CBC News it includes: 

  • Forecasts putting the province on track to report an average of 6,000 new cases of COVID-19 daily before the end of January.
  • Survey data indicating that a large proportion of Ontarians are not following basic public health guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • Mobility data showing a spike in movement by Ontarians in the days just before Christmas when the government imposed what it described as a provincewide lockdown, beginning Boxing Day. 

Ford's cabinet is due to meet Monday to decide what measures to impose, a government source tells CBC News. Options include the consideration of a curfew designed to prevent people gathering with others outside their own households, as well as further shutdowns of non-essential businesses and workplaces, sources say.

However, government officials say cabinet has not had more than a broad discussion about the possible measures and hasn't decided which restrictions to impose. Read more on this story here.

Fancy dress

(Kiichiro Sato/The Associated Press)

Kimono-clad women pose for a selfie while visiting a Shinto shrine as they celebrate Coming of Age Day in Tokyo on Monday. The day is held to mark those turning 20 years old, the traditional age of adulthood in Japan. Most of the city-hosted ceremonies were cancelled due to a state of emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In brief

The federal government has chosen not to exercise its option to buy up to 16 million more doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, Procurement Minister Anita Anand's office told CBC News late Sunday. Ottawa initially ordered 20 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, with an option to receive up to 56 million total. In December, the federal government announced it had exercised its option for an additional 20 million doses. But the chance to buy up to 16 million more doses has now expired, the department said. The government has not disclosed the terms of those options. Despite this, Anand said Canada doesn't need to approve additional vaccine candidates to meet its goal of inoculating everyone who wants a COVID-19 shot by September. She also said that target could be reached ahead of schedule. Read more on this story here.

The RCMP have launched a criminal probe into a COVID-19 death tied to a massive Alberta meat plant outbreak. The probe is the first known instance in Canada of police investigating a workplace-related COVID-19 death. Ariana Quesada, 16, filed a formal complaint on Friday in High River, Alta., asking police to investigate potential criminal negligence in the death of her father. Benito Quesada, a 51-year-old immigrant from Mexico supporting a wife and four children, was hospitalized with COVID-19 in mid-April, one of hundreds of workers at the town's Cargill meat plant infected with the coronavirus. He died in May. At least 950 staff at the Cargill plant — nearly half its workforce — tested positive for COVID-19 by early May in what remains the largest workplace outbreak in Canada. Cargill spokesperson Daniel Sullivan said in an email that safety is a top priority for the company and that since the beginning of the pandemic, it has worked closely with provincial health and occupational health and safety officials. Read more on the police probe here.

WATCH | Ariana Quesada hopes to ensure other families won't suffer:

Daughter lays police complaint in COVID-19 work death

1 year ago
Duration 0:59


Public health officials failed to cite early warnings about the threat of COVID-19 gathered through classified military intelligence as the pandemic crisis emerged a year ago, CBC News has learned — an oversight described as a strategic failure by intelligence and public health experts. The small, specialized medical unit within the Canadian military's intelligence branch began producing warnings about COVID-19 in early January of last year — assessments based largely on classified allied intelligence. Those warnings generally were three weeks ahead of other open sources, say defence insiders. But documents show the Public Health Agency of Canada's (PHAC) COVID-19 rapid risk assessments — which politicians and public servants used to guide their choices in the early days of the pandemic — contained no input from the military's warnings, which remain classified. Read more on the early warnings here.

When Andrea Kosloski got called in to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the Saskatoon intensive care nurse had to stop herself from sprinting into the hospital room. "I was so excited. It's just that snippet of hope in a very, very long year," she said. Kosloski is one of roughly 7,000 people to receive at least one dose of vaccine in Saskatchewan so far, most of them health-care workers. Nationally, about 320,000 doses have been administered, according to this tracker. The vaccine doesn't change the nurse's workload or ease any of the precautions that she must take, but it does provide some comfort and hope — something she desperately needs after a "rough year." Read more from the 29-year-old registered nurse's raw account of the pandemic's toll on her mental health

WATCH | Kosloski and other front-line health-care workers describe memorable moments:

Faces of COVID-19: Front-line Workers

1 year ago
Duration 8:17

Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said Sunday that the chamber will move ahead this week with legislation to impeach President Donald Trump unless Vice-President Mike Pence and the federal cabinet move to force him out. In a letter to colleagues, Pelosi said the House will vote to push Pence to invoke the powers of the U.S. constitution's 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. After 24 hours, the House would go ahead with impeachment legislation, meaning Trump could become the first U.S. president to be impeached twice. With efforts building to prevent Trump from ever holding office again, at least two Republican senators are calling on him to resign immediately. Read more on the U.S. political developments here.

Just before Christmas, the CME Group, the New York-based market operator that takes its name from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, began trading water futures. For the first time, Wall Street traders are now able to take a stake in the future value of water, the way they have with other agricultural and mineral commodities. So far, the water contracts being bought and sold are limited to five water districts in drought-prone California, representing a tiny fraction of the water actually used in the state. But the idea of water as something to be bought and sold by Wall Street speculators does not necessarily sit well with those who study the economics of this resource in Canada. "I find it quite disturbing," said Jim Warren, Regina-based scholar and author of Defying Palliser: Stories of Resilience from the Driest Region of the Canadian Prairies. "I mean it's upsetting, especially since, you know, the world will be watching and others will be thinking it's the way to go." Read more analysis of water trading from CBC's Don Pittis.

Now for some good news to start your Monday: Longevity seems to run in Jemima Westcott's family. The Brandonite turned 110 years old on Sunday — likely making her Manitoba's oldest living resident and now among those on the elite list of Canada's supercentenarians. Westcott, who goes by Mime, was born in 1911 in Lauder, a small farming community in southwest Manitoba. She was the middle child — the sixth of 11 children — in her family. Two of Westcott's sisters also lived past 100 — reaching 105 and 107 years old. Rae Westcott, one of Mime's sons, says his mother is part of a longevity study at Boston University. The school has followed her and her siblings for the last decade. Mime, he said, still gets a yearly check-in and survey from researchers working on the study. Read more about Mime here.

Front Burner: Trump gets de-platformed

U.S. President Donald Trump was permanently banned from Twitter after the platform cited "the risk of further incitement of violence" following the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week. Facebook previously banned him for the remainder of his time in office, and many other tech companies have followed suit.

Today on Front Burner, Julia Angwin joins host Jayme Poisson for a conversation about Trump's ban from multiple social media platforms and what consequences that might have. Angwin is editor-in-chief of The Markup, an U.S. non-profit that takes on data-driven investigations about the ethics and impact of technology.

Today in history: January 11

1922: Leonard Thompson, 14, receives the first injection of insulin, at Toronto General Hospital. Insulin was discovered by a research team composed of Frederick Banting, Charles Best, James Collip and J.J. Macleod.

1935: Aviator Amelia Earhart becomes the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Oakland, Calif.

1995: Dylex, Canada's largest clothing retailer, announces plans to close 200 stores and slash 1,800 jobs after filing for bankruptcy protection.

2008: Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to reach the summit of Mount Everest, dies in New Zealand at age 88. Hillary and his Nepalese mountain guide, Tenzing Norgay, reached the summit in 1953.

2020: Health authorities in the central Chinese city of Wuhan report the first death from a new type of coronavirus.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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