Monday, Jun. 29th, 2020

MSU researcher publishes paper examining COVID-19 spread

How many people in the U.S. have had COVID-19? Using a database of information collected after the 2009 H1N1 outbreak, a Montana State University researcher is helping develop a better understanding of the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Alex Washburne, a researcher in the Bozeman Disease Ecology Lab, which is housed in the College of Agriculture’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, published a paper on the subject this week in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The paper uses data from ILINet a database created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010 to count patients who check into medical clinics with influenza-like illnesses, or ILI. That type of data collection for the purpose of identifying trends is known as syndromic surveillance.

Influenza-like illnesses include any number of infections that carry symptoms similar to the seasonal flu — such as fever, cough and sore throat. Both influenza-like H1N1 and non-influenza diseases like COVID-19 fall into that group. Monitoring trends in ILI clinic visits, Washburne said, could help better understand how quickly and extensively COVID-19 spread during the early days of its appearance in the U.S.

In collaboration with researchers at Pennsylvania State and Cornell universities, Washburne examined the number of ILI visits reported each week over the last decade and compared those historical trends to such visits during March 2020. They identified a surge in March 2020 ILI visits that parallels regional increases in COVID-19 cases.

By examining ILI data alongside the known regional prevalence of COVID-19, Washburne and his collaborators determined that there may have been many cases of the coronavirus disease that weren’t initially identified as such.

Washburne and his colleagues estimate that as many as 87% of coronavirus cases were not diagnosed during early March, which could translate to around 8.7 million people based on the excess March ILI visits. The surge in ILI diminished quickly in the latter part of March, leading researchers to conclude that more cases of COVID-19 were being identified since fewer ILI reports were being logged in the database.

“Early on there seems to have been a low case detection rate, but as time went on that changed,” said Washburne. “By the last week in March, as more and more testing was going on, that case detection rate increased significantly.”

This is good news for scientists seeking to predict and prepare for future epidemics, said Washburne. A baseline has been established through a decade of ILI data collection that allows for the early detection of anomalous surges of ILI that deviate from the annual average.

With much of the research about COVID-19 happening as the pandemic unfolds, Washburne said syndromic surveillance like this shows researchers and the medical community one piece of a larger story. When coupled with COVID-19 testing efforts and serological surveys, which seek to identify the proportion of a population with immunity to an illness, this type of data collection and analysis can illuminate a piece of the puzzle that helps outline our understanding of coronavirus as a whole, he said, while also offering insight for future potential epidemics.

Washburne also said that syndromic surveillance using tools like ILINet could be applied in areas where widespread testing is too expensive.

“For communities that may not have the capacity for more large-scale testing, this may be able to help give them a picture of the movement of their epidemic in time and space,” he said. “That way they can know when to implement actions like mask wearing and social distancing measures.”

The practice of collecting data ahead of a potential outbreak is an investment in future public health, Washburne said. This research into COVID-19 wouldn’t have been possible without the creation of the database after H1N1, so continuing to expanding the baseline data collected for other illnesses could be crucial in navigating future pandemics.

“All these different methods can be used to cross-validate each other,” he said. “We know if our other methods don’t work optimally, we have additional resources. Things like this can really help us be better prepared in the future.”

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Saturday, Jun. 20th, 2020

8 Ways to Improve Your Writing Using Your Mobile Device

Do you stick to that impression that writers are old-fashioned? I mean; George R.R. Martin uses a DOS computer and has the most outdated blog on the planet.

But many writers are actually savvy with their technology. They use the best software for their work, and they make sure to store it in the safest possible way.

What about smartphones? Is there a way to use a mobile device to improve your capacity and skills? There is, and we’ll tell you how to do it.

Mobile writing may not look convenient because of the small screen and tiny keyboard whose auto-correct features have a life of their own. But when used the right way, your phone gives you a chance to boost your potential.

8 Tips: How Your Smartphone Can Help You Improve Your Writing Skills

1. Listen to Good Podcasts

Research is the foundation of every writing process. It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to write an academic paper or a novel; you have to support your ideas with reliable information. Have you ever tried listening to podcasts on the theme that you’re exploring?

If grammar is your problem, you can listen to grammar podcasts. If you’re writing on a history theme, you can choose specific podcasts that tackle that period of time. If you’re writing a book and your character is a detective, you can listen to crime podcasts.

Be creative in your search; you’ll definitely find good resources.

If you have an iPhone, it already has a default Podcasts app. Spotify is the best choice for Android devices.

2. Use a Transcription App

Evernote is a versatile app with features that not everyone uses. Did you know that it has a speech-to-text feature, too? It’s not perfect, so you’ll have to do some editing later on. However, it’s a great tool to support your brainstorming process or any creative idea splurge.

3. Use Your Phone to Do Research, Anytime

The writing process goes beyond the moments you spend in front of the computer. You think about the project all the time. When you get an idea and you want to research it, use your phone no matter what situation you’re in. You can create private Pinterest boards to save the resources, so you’ll check them in detail later on.

4. Write Notes All the Time
Keep your phone on the bed counter. You probably know this: the best ideas come at night. You’re trying to fall asleep, but your mind decides it’s not the time for that. It decides to work, and it does it in the most genuine way possible. Use any note-taking app to capture these ideas. Don’t leave them for the morning; they will fade away.

5. Collaborate with Pro Writers
Did you know that even professional writers need to collaborate with experts at different stages of their projects? Even if they completed their work, they need an editor to bring it to its perfect format.

If you need this online essay writing service, you can hire it through your phone and chat with the writer on the go. You’ll discuss ideas and plan the project’s development.

6. Use a Thesaurus App

An advanced English thesaurus will help you find the right word when you want to sound funny, smart, intellectual, and non-repetitive.

7. Use Trello to Plan the Work Process

Trello is an outstanding project management app. You will create three boards:
• To do
• Doing
• Done
You’ll assign a timeframe to each task, and you’ll start moving through the project. When you organize the stages, the writing process will be less overwhelming. You’ll know what tasks you have today, and you’ll realize that you have time to complete them.

8. Use a Journaling App

Practice! That’s the main rule that leads to improvements. Day One is a great writing skills app. It gives you space to write down your worries, hopes, feelings, and thoughts. It will keep the entries organized, so you can go back to them to remind yourself about past experiences. You’ll also see that with time and regular journaling, your writing skills have improved.  

Don’t Ditch the Mobile Phone!
When you’re trying to focus, your first thought is to leave the phone in the other room and stay alone with a blank page on your laptop. Don’t do that! Don’t reach out for the phone to check social media, but leave it there. It may help with a thesaurus app, note-taking feature, or an educational podcast while you rest or prepare a cup of coffee.

With the right apps, your smartphone becomes a powerful tool that boosts the writing process.

Sandra Larson is a writer with a passion to share insights. She shares blogs that motivate people to write more and use different methods to trigger imagination. Commitment to a regular practice - that’s Sandra’s secret to success.

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Thursday, Jun. 18th, 2020

Fourth of July Fireworks Display CANCELED

It has been the Gallatin Empire Lions Club's greatest pleasure to provide the Gallatin Valley, the surrounding area, and its visitors with the largest Fourth of July fireworks display in the west. Due to the demands of this project, the Gallatin Empire Lions Club is unable to continue the fireworks show as we move on to other projects. We thank our major donors for their unwavering support over the past 25 years and truly appreciate all the community support. It was a good run!

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Wednesday, Jun. 17th, 2020

Great American Outdoors Act Headed to House After Passing Senate With Strong Bipartisan Majority

GOLDEN, Colo. (Jun. 17, 2020) – Today, the Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act 73-25 in a strong show of bipartisan support for public lands. The Great American Outdoors Act will guarantee full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and fund long-deferred maintenance of our nation’s national forests, trails, and other public lands - and would give the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) a chance to be completed in the coming years.

LWCF funding was used in 2017 to conserve property along New Mexico’s Alamocita Creek to create a public corridor for the CDT. “For more than 50 years, LWCF has been a crucial tool in protecting our public lands and waters,” said Teresa Martinez, Executive Director of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. “Full funding of LWCF means more places to play, more protection for parks and trails, and more investment in tourist communities hit hard by COVID-19. Passage of the Great American Outdoors Act into law would be a great victory for public lands, and we’re grateful to the bipartisan group of Senators from CDT states – Senators Heinrich and Udall of New Mexico, Senators Bennet and Gardner of Colorado, and Senators Daines and Tester of Montana – who led the bill to Senate passage.”

Westerners have long called for the need for full, dedicated funding for LWCF and for a solution to a growing backlog of maintenance in national parks and forests. In a 2019 survey of small business owners in towns along the Continental Divide Trail, 98% of them supported full, dedicated funding of LWCF. In March, President Trump made a seemingly abrupt about-face after years of proposing drastic cuts to LWCF to join these calls of support. His endorsement of the Great American Outdoors Act and broad support for the bill among House members makes final passage more likely, but in 2020 it seems there are no guarantees.

“We are thrilled that the Great American Outdoors Act has passed through the Senate, but the work is not yet finished,” said Martinez. “We urge the House champions of this bill, including original cosponsors Representative Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico and Representative Mike Simpson of Idaho, to push this bill past the finish line as quickly as possible.”

About the Continental Divide Trail
The CDT is one of the world’s premier long-distance trails, stretching 3,100 miles from Mexico to Canada along the Continental Divide. Designated by Congress in 1978, the CDT is the highest, most challenging, and most remote of the 11 National Scenic Trails. It provides recreational opportunities ranging from hiking to horseback riding to hunting for thousands of visitors each year. While 95% of the CDT is located on public land, approximately 150 miles are still in need of protection.

About the Continental Divide Trail Coalition
The CDTC was founded in 2012 by volunteers and recreationists hoping to provide a unified voice for the Trail. Working hand-in-hand with the U.S. Forest Service and other federal land management agencies, the CDTC is a non-profit partner supporting stewardship of the CDT. The mission of the CDTC is to complete, promote, and protect the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, a world-class national resource. For more information, please visit

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Tuesday, Jun. 16th, 2020

Camper bitten in possible bear incident in Gallatin County

Bozeman — A woman was bitten by what investigators believe to be a bear while camping last week in Beehive Basin just northwest of Big Sky.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks was notified of the incident on Friday. According to the victim, she and another person were camping on private land near the Beehive Basin trailhead when they were awakened early Thursday morning by a large animal pushing or “falling” on their tent. The two campers kicked and yelled at the animal to scare it away, and it bit one of them on the leg from outside the tent, then left the campsite. The campers did not see the animal.

Fortunately, the victim’s injuries were relatively minor, and she sought prompt medical treatment.  

FWP believes it was a bear that bit the woman, based on her account of the animal’s behavior and the nature of the bite wound. However, no bear tracks have been found near the trailhead to confirm whether it was a grizzly or a black bear, but the bite wound indicated it was from an adult-age bear.

Initial details of the incident indicate the bear’s behavior was likely investigative, not predatory, and that the bite was defensive. The victim reported that their food was stored securely in their vehicle, not in the tent, and that they were wearing clean clothes.

FWP will be monitoring the area closely with other agencies for potentially hazardous bear behavior. FWP has worked with the U.S. Forest Service to add signs warning other recreationists in the area of the recent bear activity. This incident is still under investigation.

FWP reminds recreationists to be cautious and prepared for a bear encounter when recreating in Montana. Some recommended precautions for avoiding negative encounters with bears include:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and look for bear sign.
  • Carry and know how to use bear spray.
  • Stay away from animal carcasses.
  • Travel in groups and make noise whenever possible.
  • Follow U.S. Forest Service food storage regulations.
  • If you encounter a bear, never approach it. Back away slowly and leave the area.
  • If a bear approaches your tent, make your presence known gradually. If it attempts to enter your tent, fight back.

For more information on staying safe in bear country, visit

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Monday, Jun. 15th, 2020

Livingston Depot Museum Opens for Summer Season

The Depot Museum will be open to the public on Wednesday, June 17th. Visitors are welcome Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The exhibits look a little different this year in an effort to keep visitors, volunteers, and staff safe. The vaulted ceilings and spacious atrium provide room for social distancing while enjoying the exhibits. The Depot staff has also implemented safety precautions to limit the spread of covid-19, including a rigorous disinfecting schedule and adapting exhibits for social distancing.  

The Depot’s popular ongoing main exhibit “Rails Across the Rockies: A Century of People and Places” introduces visitors to the rich history of railroading in Montana, and offers a sense of the grandeur of historic travel. The exhibit gives special attention to the Northern Pacific and its central role in the opening of Yellowstone, America’s first national park. Livingston has served as the gateway to Yellowstone since the 1880s, and the accessed through Livingston beginning in the 1880s. In addition to its main exhibit, the museum also presents “The Livingston Depot in History and Architecture,” and “Film in Montana: Moviemaking under the Big Sky,” as well as an annual featured special exhibit. 

Rounding out the main exhibits in 2020 is the traveling exhibit “On Track: The Railroad Photographs of Warren McGee.”  “On Track” presents an intriguing selection of photos taken over a six-decade span from the 1930’s through the 1990’s by Livingston native and prolific railroad photographer, Warren McGee. Additional historic objects will round out the visitor’s experience of McGee’s remarkable career.  Developed by the Montana Historical Society this exhibit is now part of the Livingston Depot Foundation’s permanent museum collection. 

More information is available through the Depot office at (406) 222-2300 or its website,

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Friday, Jun. 12th, 2020

The Salvation Army provides 200+ home gift boxes in drive-thru distribution

On Saturday, June 13, The Salvation Army Bozeman will distribute more than 200 home gift boxes to families in need at The Salvation Army Thrift Store at 425 E Babcock St from 10am to 4pm or until supplies run out. The event will be drive-thru, meaning families will not have to exit their cars. 

The home gift boxes include items like cooking oil, shampoo, body wash, cleaning supplies and a various assortment of snacks. The boxes are intended for families with access to a kitchen and shower, but all are welcome. There are no eligibility requirements or restrictions for receiving a box. 

The Salvation Army has partnered with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who helped pack the boxes for the distribution event. 

“The Salvation Army cares deeply about our community, when times are difficult, and year after year,” says Lt. Jenn Larson, pastor and administrator for The Salvation Army Bozeman. “With a few simple household staples, we may be able to help families who are struggling to get by.”  

If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty during this time and needs assistance, please contact The Salvation Army Bozeman by calling (406) 586-5813 or visiting

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Wednesday, Jun. 10th, 2020

Fish for free over Father’s Day weekend

Whether you’re tying on a salmon fly or putting a nightcrawler onto a hook, during Father’s Day weekend, everyone in Montana can fish for free.

While this family-oriented opportunity allows anyone to fish without a license on June 20-21, all other fishing rules and regulations are in effect and must be followed. 

FWP encourages all would-be anglers to be aware of boating and water safety on Montana’s rivers and streams, particularly this year as many rivers across the state are still experiencing spring runoff and flood conditions. Additionally, FWP reminds those with watercraft of any kind to remember to stop at all AIS inspection stations.

For water and boating safety tips, click on the Recreation tab at and choose your activity. For specific information on boating safety go to

For more information on AIS, including to locate your nearest inspection station, go to

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Tuesday, Jun. 9th, 2020

Top 10 Ways to Get Your Home Ready for Summer

With summer on its way, now’s the time to make changes to your home and get ahead on things so you can enjoy the warmth. Here’s a list of things you can do to get your home ready for summer:

1. Service Air Conditioner: Air conditioners need maintenance just like any other home appliance, so be sure to get it serviced before the heat starts to pick up. Make sure to change the filter and test to see if the air conditioner is working properly. If it is damaged, better to get it fixed now than in the middle of a heatwave.

2. Inspect Your Roof: Winter can cause some damage and minor cracks to your roof, so it’s a good idea to give your roof a quick look and to stay on top of any repairs needed. It’ll save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

3. Prevent Water Damage: The winter thaw can cause a lot of problems and lead to wood rot and other damages. Be sure to inspect vulnerable areas of your house, like the foundations, and do any necessary repairs.

4. Prepare the Grill: The summer’s a great time for some barbecue, so make sure your grill is in working order to make the most of this time. Clean the grill if you haven’t already, and make sure the burners are in good condition if you’re using a gas grill. Cleaning your grill also helps prevent rodent infestations.

5. Check Out Your Irrigation System: The cold months of winter can lead to cracks or bursts in your hoses and sprinklers, so turn them on and see if everything is in working order. If they aren’t functioning correctly, you may have to get your irrigation system fixed.

6. Maintain Your Window Screens: It’s a good idea to wash your window screens every so often, especially before summer. Not only that but be sure to be on the lookout for any damage and to get it replaced if there are holes. Don’t want bugs getting in after all.

7. Get Rid of Still Water: Mosquitos tend to breed and lay eggs on still water, so for a mosquito-free summer, get rid of any sources of still water you can find around your home.

8. Inspect The Attic: Rodents and other bugs love to hide away in attics, so be sure to clean and dust it before summer is fully underway. This also gives you the chance to fix any cracks in the walls rodents might use. If you do have an infestation learn how to tell the difference between a rat vs mouse so you can handle it correctly, or call your local exterminator.

9. Move Your Garbage Cans: Though it’s convenient to step right outside the front door when disposing of garbage in the winter, having your garbage cans so close is a bad idea in the summer. Insects and rodents are attracted to it and might decide to take the short route to the inside of your home. To prevent this, move your garbage cans further away.

10. Trim Your Garden: Trimming your garden not only helps make it look more appealing but also provides less hiding space and means of getting into your house for pests. Learn more about preventing pests this summer at the pest education network.

There you have it. The Top 10 ways to get your home ready for summer so you can have a relaxing time.

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Norman Huynh Appointed Bozeman Symphony's New Music Director

The Bozeman Symphony Board of Directors are pleased to announce internationally recognized conductor Norman Huynh has been appointed its new Music Director. Huynh was publicly announced the Bozeman Symphony’s new Music Director at a virtual event on June 8th via a live Zoom meeting hosted by Board of Director’s Chair Stephen Schachman and Executive Director Emily Paris-Martin held at Old Main Gallery.

Norman was selected out of six finalists following a year-long Music Director search throughout the 2019 – 2020 concert season. He was selected with the help of the Bozeman Symphony Board of Directors, an eight-person search committee, staff, musicians, and community participation.

Stephen Schachman said, “Norman’s talents coupled with our terrific Executive Director Emily Paris-Martin and our dynamic staff will ensure an exciting future for our community and our musicians. It would be remiss not to thank the search committee and our patrons who supported us during the search.”

As the Bozeman Symphony finalizes its 2020 – 2021 concert season schedule, Schachman adds, “We are all incredibly excited to start the next chapter of the Bozeman Symphony and to continue to bring exceptional live symphonic music to the community. Norman is an exceptional talent and we are fortunate to have someone of his level of expertise help forge the future of the Bozeman Symphony Society.”

Norman Huynh has established himself as a conductor with an ability to captivate an audience through a multitude of musical genres. Born in 1988, Norman is a first-generation Asian American and the first in his family to pursue classical music as a career. Along with his role as the Bozeman Symphony’s Music Director, he will continue as the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Associate Conductor of the Oregon Symphony.

Norman is honored to be named the Bozeman Symphony’s new Music Director, and see’s the appointment as the beginning of an exciting adventure.  “I am inspired by Bozeman’s support of the arts, and the closeness of the community as a whole. Everyone that I met during my time in Bozeman, from baristas at coffee shops to The Last Wind Up, expressed a genuine interest in the Bozeman Symphony. I look forward to joining this community and creating musical experiences that continue to bring us closer together,” said Huynh.

He adds, “As I step into the role of Music Director, I am most excited about the potential of what we can accomplish together. I look forward to expanding our collaborative efforts and building lasting partnerships with other arts institutions in town. In the wake of current world events, I believe that the role of the Symphony is to reconnect us with each other, to facilitate healing and forward momentum through the language of music.”

Bozeman Symphony Concertmaster Carrie Krause is thrilled for the future of her fellow musicians and the entire Bozeman Symphony. She said, “Musically, Norman’s well-equipped to inspire and lead our orchestra to a new level of excellence through his musical passion, awareness of style, training at top-level institutions, adaptability, and deep dedication to the art of our craft.”

Carrie adds, “The Bozeman Symphony at large will benefit from Norman's strength of creative programming, community-centered marketing, charisma, approachability, and thoughtfulness in collaborating with musicians, staff, audiences, patrons, and Bozeman's incredibly rich community of arts organizations.”

Norman’s recent conducting engagements include the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Orchestra Sinfònica del Vallès, Eugene Symphony, Grant Park Music Festival, and the Princess Galyani Vadhana Youth Orchestra of Bangkok. He has served as a cover conductor for the New York Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic with John Williams. 

Norman has been at the forefront of moving orchestral music out of the traditional concert hall into venues where an orchestra is not conventionally found. In 2011, he co-founded the Occasional Symphony in Baltimore to celebrate holidays by performing innovative concerts in distinct venues throughout the inner-city. The orchestra performed on Dr. Seuss’ birthday at Port Discovery Children’s Museum, Halloween in a burnt church turned concert venue, and Cinco de Mayo in the basement bar of a Mexican restaurant. As Music Director, Norman commissioned new works by multiple composers to give concert goers the rare experience of being present for a piece of music’s world premiere. 

Norman is a recipient of the 2015 Yale Distinguished Music Educator Award for his work with the Portland (Maine) Symphony Orchestra’s Musical Explorer’s Program. As the Assistant Conductor of the PSO from 2013-2016, Norman visited over sixty schools across the state of Maine and co-founded Symphony & Spirits, a series of events for young professionals, between the ages of 21-39, to make the orchestra more accessible and engaging for a younger audience.

In the next few weeks, The Symphony will announce the schedule and programming for its 2020 - 2021 concert season. For questions regarding next season and tickets, please contact the Bozeman Symphony at 406-585-9774 or Visit for more information about new Music Director Norman Huynh.


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