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Atlanta hospital admits second American with Ebola

ATLANTA — The North Carolina missionary who contracted the Ebola virus while working in Liberia arrived in Georgia on Tuesday and joined another aid worker in the specialized isolation ward of a hospital here.

Emory University Hospital admitted the missionary, Nancy Writebol, early Tuesday afternoon, after she was flown to Georgia aboard a private air ambulance that landed at a military base northwest of Atlanta. She arrived at the hospital in a motorcade that included an ambulance and an array of police vehicles. Onlookers crowded a nearby skywalk, and television news helicopters recorded footage that showed Writebol being pushed into the hospital on a stretcher.

Emory said that Writebol and Kent Brantly, a doctor who was working for the relief organization Samaritan’s Purse in West Africa, where Ebola has killed more than 800 people in recent months, were being treated in a unit built 12 years ago to isolate and care for patients with especially threatening infectious diseases.

Bruce Johnson, the president of SIM USA, the Christian group with which Writebol is affiliated, said at a news conference that he had been told she was “very weak” but improving.

In a statement from Emory about Writebol’s admission, the hospital did not comment on the conditions of Brantly or Writebol, who are believed to be the first two people ever treated for Ebola at a hospital in the United States. Their admissions have drawn widespread scrutiny, and Emory doctors and public health officials have repeatedly countered speculation that Brantly and Writebol could easily infect others in the United States.

Ebola is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids, and the people assisting Brantly and Writebol have worn suits intended to prevent contamination.

“We have a specially designed unit, which is highly contained,” Dr. Bruce S. Ribner, a specialist in infectious diseases at Emory, said last week.

—Alan Blinder, The New York Times

Treasury may close tax loophole to stop corporate relocations

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is weighing plans to circumvent Congress and act on its own to curtail tax benefits for U.S. companies that relocate overseas to lower their tax bills, seeking to stanch a recent wave of so-called corporate inversions, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said Tuesday.

Treasury Department officials are rushing to assemble an array of options that would essentially wipe out the economic incentive for the deals, Lew said.

Options are still being developed and no final decision has been made on whether to go forward with administrative action.

“The question is, can we do enough that it will materially change the economics of inversions so that companies will make different decisions,” Lew said in an interview. “The things we are looking at look to me like they could very materially change the economics of inversions.”

The action comes in the face of a recent increase in U.S. companies reaching deals to reorganize overseas, creating an explosive political issue that Obama has called a lack of “economic patriotism.” Investment banks have been counseling companies to pursue such transactions because of the potential tax benefits. Two large U.S. pharmaceutical companies — the drug giant AbbVie, based in Illinois, and the generic manufacturer Mylan, based in Pennsylvania — agreed to such deals last month.

“Time is of the essence,” Lew said. “We are looking at a very long list of possible ways to address the issue.”

—Julie Hirschfeld Davis, The New York Times