3rd January, 2022
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday with mild symptoms.
He said he would attend meetings virtually as he quarantined at home for the next five days.
He broke the news on Twitter late on Sunday.
“I tested positive this morning for COVID-19. I requested the test today after exhibiting symptoms while at home on leave. My symptoms are mild, and I am following my physician’s directions.
“As my doctor made clear to me, my fully vaccinated status — and the booster I received in early October — have rendered the infection much more mild than it would otherwise have been. And I am grateful for that
‘To the degree possible, I plan to attend virtually this coming week those key meetings and discussions required to inform my situational awareness and decision making. I will retain all authorities.
@DepSecDef Hicks will represent me as appropriate in other matters.
“I have informed my leadership team of my positive test result, as well as the President. My staff has begun contact tracing and testing of all those with whom I have come into contact over the last week.
‘My last meeting with @POTUS was on Tues 12/21, more than a week before my symptoms began. I tested negative that very morning. I have not been in the Pentagon since Thursday, where I met briefly & only with a few staff. We were properly masked & socially distanced throughout
“As my doctor made clear to me, my fully vaccinated status — and the booster I received in early October — have rendered the infection much more mild than it would otherwise have been. And I am grateful for that.
“The vaccines work and will remain a military medical requirement for our workforce. I continue to encourage everyone eligible for a booster shot to get one. This remains a readiness issue”.
News of Austin’s positive test comes after the Pentagon last week tightened restrictions at its headquarters over concern about the highly transmissible Omicron variant that has led to a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections throughout the world.
The military is faced with the challenge of maintaining military readiness for troops, often in close quarters on ships and planes.
Austin is one of the most senior members of President Joe Biden’s administration to test positive for COVID-19.
In October, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tested positive for the virus.
Roughly 98% of active-duty troops have received the COVID-19 vaccine, which is now mandatory for them.