Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced tonight he has tested positive for COVID-19 and will quarantine himself for the next five days.
Austin, who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and received a booster in October, said in a statement he requested a test Sunday after exhibiting symptoms while he was home on leave.
“My symptoms are mild, and I am following my physician’s directions,” he said. “In keeping with those directions, and in accordance with CDC guidelines, I will quarantine myself at home for the next five days.”
Austin said he retains all authorities of his position during his quarantine and intends to virtually attend key meetings and discussions, along with being represented by Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks.
Austin also said he has informed his staff and anyone he has come into contact with over the past week. He said his last meeting with President Biden was Dec. 21, more a week before he began experiencing symptoms.
“I tested negative that very morning,” Austin said. “I have not been in the Pentagon since Thursday, where I met briefly -- and only -- with a few members of my staff. We were properly masked and socially distanced throughout.”
Austin highlighted his vaccination status in his statement, noting that fully vaccinating the U.S. military remains a “readiness issue.”
“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. “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.”