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Defense secretary says he has tested positive for COVID-19

Lloyd Austin wears a mask
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said he has tested positive for COVID-19.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said Sunday he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms while quarantining at home.

In a statement Sunday night, Austin said he plans to attend key meetings and discussions virtually in the coming week “to the degree possible.” He said Deputy Secretary Kathleen Hicks would represent him in appropriate matters.

“I have informed my leadership team of my positive test result, as well as the President,” Austin said. “My staff has begun contact tracing and testing of all those with whom I have come into contact over the last week.”

The White House says President Biden has promised that the U.S. and allies will act “decisively” if Russia invades Ukraine.

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Austin, 68, said he was fully vaccinated and received a booster in October. He said he requested a test Sunday morning after experiencing symptoms while at home on leave and, given the result, planned to remain in quarantine for five days, per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“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,” he said.

In October, another member of President Biden’s Cabinet, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas, tested positive for COVID-19.


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