Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III tested positive on Sunday for Covid-19. He requested a Covid test after exhibiting symptoms while at home on leave.
“My symptoms are mild, and I am following my physician’s directions,” he said in a statement. “In keeping with those directions, and in accordance with CDC guidelines, I will quarantine myself at home for the next five days.”
Austin is fully vaccinated for Covid. His last meeting with President Joe Biden was on Dec. 21, more than a week before he began to experience symptoms. He tested negative that day and has not been in the Pentagon since Thursday, meeting with a few members of his staff.
“Stemming the spread of this virus, safeguarding our workforce and ensuring my own speedy and safe recovery remain my priorities. 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. Deputy Secretary Hicks will represent me as appropriate in other matters,” he said.
“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,” he said.
“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,” Austin said.