Pentagon chief tests positive for Covid-19
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin tested positive for Covid-19 after experiencing mild symptoms and will now stay in quarantine for the next few days, where he will continue to lead the Pentagon in a virtual capacity.
Austin revealed his positive test result on Sunday, writing, “My symptoms are mild, and I am following my physician’s directions. In keeping with those directions, and in accordance with CDC guidelines, I will quarantine myself at home for the next five days.”
Austin added that he would “retain all authorities” and attend “key meetings and discussions” remotely, while Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks would represent him in certain matters.
Austin informed President Joe Biden of the result, noting that his last in-person meeting with the president was on December 21, more than a week before he experienced symptoms. Austin also claimed Pentagon staff who had recently come into contact with him were currently being tested.
“I have not been in the Pentagon since Thursday, where I met briefly – and only – with a few members of staff. We were properly masked and socially distanced throughout,” Austin claimed.
While vaccination and a recent booster shot did not prevent the defense secretary from getting a breakthrough infection, he insisted that his symptoms would have been much more severe if he had not gone out of the way to protect himself.
“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,” he said, encouraging fellow members of the military to get vaccinated.
The vaccines work and will remain a military medical requirement for our workforce
Austin has been engaged in a lengthy battle with opponents of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate in the US military, which requires all members to be fully vaccinated. Although the overwhelming majority of troops have complied with the order, hundreds of servicemembers in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines have been discharged for refusing to be vaccinated for Covid-19.