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Microstegium Vimineum (Japanese Stiltgrass) is an invasive grass species that is currently dominating susceptible ecosystems across the eastern half of the United States. The presence of Japanese Stiltgrass can result in decomposition of plant available carbon (C) and nitrogen (N), limiting the variety of species that thrive within these habitats. N deposition has the ability to influence the composition of plant communities as it can change the concentration of nitrogen within the atmosphere and rhizosphere. Similarly, leaf litter quality influences microbial communities and therefore available nutrients to understory plants. In this study, we are examining the degree at which these factors influence the impact of Japanese Stiltgrass on soil degradation. The study is taking place in the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. 20 pairs of plots consist of 10 low-quality litter (pine dominated) plots and 10 high-quality litter (6 maple-elm and 4 tulip-poplar dominated) plots. Within each pair, three one-square foot subplots are each receiving one of three nitrogen treatments: 8.65 kg N ha-1 yr-1 or high N, 3.46kg N ha-1 yr-1 or low N, and a control of 0 g N m-2 yr-1. It is anticipated that the highest N treatment levels will yield lesser impacts on the soil in all forest cover types. However, we expect to see the greatest suppression of SOM decomposition under pine-dominated forests, as the microbial communities within these stands are more sensitive to higher levels N additions.
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IntroductionThe rapid spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) worldwide raised concerns about its heavy impact on the health care delivery system and forced significant changes in the realities of the clinical practice we are accustomed to. With these changes comes a need for a different approach to outpatient evaluation of common otolaryngology complaints in patients with new symptoms.Recently published set of guidelines for evaluation of head and neck during the COVID-19 pandemic recommended to postpone the management of benign disease including benign salivary or thyroid gland disease.1 In order to limit the chance of COVID-19 infection among patients or health care workers, surveying patients via telephone or telemedicine visit was advised, reserving in-person evaluation for the patients at risk for significant negative outcomes. The challenge is that these measures can only be applied in clear-cut clinical scenarios, when the disease process is most likely benign and the care delivery can be postponed.In cases with a high degree of uncertainty based on available clinical information, many physicians will have to decide how to proceed after initial telemedicine encounter. Clinicians will have to consider how to balance a potential delay in diagnosis, including cancer diagnosis, against the risk of COVID-19 exposure, and may need to exercise their best judgement knowing that for head and neck cancer the risk of progression with cancer care delay is high.2 In this communication, we present our approach to triaging and evaluation of patients with complaints concerning for salivary gland disease.

Maria Vargas, MD

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Dear Editor,At 29th of February the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 85403 confirmed globally confirmed case of COVID-19 [1]. COVID-19 is dramatically increasing in Italy, the last report from the ministry of health on the 9th of march reported the presence of 9172 confirmed cases and 733 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) [2]. We agree with Chan et al that physicians managing airway procedures are at particularly high risk to contract the COVID-19 infection [3]. We support the authors that claimed for a full protective wearing including N95 respirator, gown, cap, eye protection, and gloves, during aerosol generating procedures (AGP) [3]. However, we’d like to focus the attention on the tracheostomy procedures in COVID-19 patients since otolaryngologists, anesthesiologists and intensive care physicians are at high risk of contracting the infection during tracheostomy [3]. Tracheostomy is required in case of prolonged mechanical ventilation and intensive care unit (ICU) stay [4]. Surgical tracheostomy is an AGP associated with an increased risk severe acute respiratory distress (SARS) infection [5]. Strict adherence to infection control guidelines in SARS is mandatory in performing tracheostomy in ICU or operating room [6].Few years ago, we proposed the double lumen endotracheal tube (DLET) for percutaneous tracheostomy in critically ill patients [7]. DLET was equipped with an upper channel that allows passage of a bronchoscope during the percutaneous tracheostomy and with a lower channel exclusively dedicated to patient ventilation [7]. The lower channel is equipped with a distal cuff positioned just above the carina that may allow a safe mechanical ventilation by keeping stable gas-exchange and limiting the spread of aerosol during the procedure [7]. During the percutaneous procedure, the puncture of the anterior tracheal wall, Seldinger insertion, dilatation, and cannula positioning were all performed with the DLET correctly placed in the trachea. The DLET was removed at the end of the tracheostomy when the cannula is inserted and correctly positioned with the FFB [7].Surgical tracheostomy in COVID-19 patients should be done with a close collaboration between otolaryngologists, preforming the surgical procedure, and anesthesiologists or intensive care physicians managing the general anesthesia and the airway.When a surgical tracheostomy is done under general anesthesia, just before the surgeon makes the tracheal stoma, the endotracheal tube is withdrawn, so that the cuff of the tube is not in the surgical field [8]. But when the surgeon makes the tracheal incision, ventilation is lost and the surgeon has to be quick enough to create the soma and insert the tracheostomy tube in a short time [8]. During this procedure a large spread of aerosol may occur. To avoid the aerosol, we suggest to push down the endotracheal tube beyond the site chosen for the tracheal stoma at the beginning of the procedure. The endotracheal tube should reach the tracheal carina so the cuff is surely distal to the tracheostomy site. By checking the airway pressure and the end-tidal CO2, on the mechanical ventilator we can realize if the endotracheal tube is still in the lower tract of the trachea or in the endobronchial tract. Our previous experience with the DLET demonstrated that the endotracheal tube and the tracheal cannula can be simultaneously inserted inside the trachea [7]. According to this, pushing down the endotracheal tube and cuffed it at the level of the carina may avoid the spread of aerosol and, then, may add an extra security for the medical staff during a procedure at high risk of generating aerosol.ReferencesCoronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 40.https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200229-sitrep-40-covid-19.pdfItalian Minister of Health. COVID-19 Italian cases.http://www.salute.gov.it/portale/nuovocoronavirus/dettaglioContenutiNuovoCoronavirus.jsp?lingua=italiano&id=5351&area=nuovoCoronavirus&menu=vuotoChan YJK, Wong EWY, Lam W. Practical Aspects of Otolaryngologic Clinical Services During the 2019 Novel Coronavirus EpidemicAn Experience in Hong Kong. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online March 20, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.0488Vargas M, Sutherasan Y, Antonelli M, Brunetti I, Corcione A, Laffey JG, et al. Tracheostomy procedures in the intensive care unit: an international survey. Critical Care 2015;19:291-301Tran K, Cimon K, Severn M et al. Aerosol Generating Procedures and Risk of Transmission of Acute Respiratory Infections to Healthcare Workers: A Systematic Review. . PLoS ONE 2012; 7(4): e35797. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035797Chun-Wing A, Yin -Chun L, Kit-Ying L. Management of Critically Ill Patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Int. J. Med. Sci. 2004 1(1): 1-10Vargas M, Servillo G, Tessitore G, Aloj F, Brunetti I, Arditi E, et al. Percutaneous dilatational tracheostomy with a double-lumen endotracheal tube. A Comparison of Feasibility, Gas Exchange, and Airway Pressures. Chest 2015; 147:1267-74Walts PA, Sudish CM, DeCamp MM. Techniques of surgical tracheostomy. Clin Chest Med 24 (2003) 413 – 422