|FILE PHOTO: NATO Defence Ministers meeting in Brussels|
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Sunday he had tested positive for COVID-19 and had mild symptoms during the home quarantine.
In a statement on Sunday evening, Austin said he plans to “virtually” attend key meetings and discussions over the next week “whenever possible.” He said Secretary of State Kathleen Hicks would represent him on relevant matters.
Austin said he last met with President Joe Biden on December 21, more than a week before he started experiencing symptoms, and tested negative the morning of that day. “I also informed my management team about my positive test result as president, said Austin. My co-workers have started tracking and testing everyone I have come in contact with in the past week.
Austin, 68, said he was fully vaccinated and had a booster shot in October. He said he requested a test Sunday morning after seeing symptoms at home while on vacation and, given the result, planned to stay in quarantine for five days, according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Vaccines work and will continue to be a military medical requirement for our workforce. I continue to encourage anyone who qualifies to receive a booster vaccination. This is still a readiness issue, ”he said.
Another member of Biden’s cabinet, Homeland Security Minister Alejandro Mayorkas, tested positive for COVID-19 in October.