U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reported on Sunday that he tested positive for the presence of the coronavirus infection.
"I tested positive this morning for COVID-19. I requested the test today after exhibiting symptoms while at home on leave," he said in a statement published on the Pentagon website.
Austin, 68, emphasized that his "symptoms are mild," and that he was following his physician’s directions, intending to quarantine himself at home for the next five days. He specified that he intended to attend "key meetings and discussions" in a virtual format and that he "will retain all authorities." "Deputy Secretary [Kathleen] Hicks will represent me as appropriate in other matters," the official noted.
He has already informed his Pentagon leadership team as well as US President Joe Biden of his diagnosis. "My last meeting with President Biden occurred on Tuesday, December 21st, more than a week before I began to experience symptoms. I tested negative that very morning. I have not been in the Pentagon since Thursday," the Pentagon chief said.
The secretary of defense reiterated that earlier he was fully inoculated against coronavirus and received a booster shot in October.