Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Tests Positive for Covid-19, Pentagon Says

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He is among the highest-ranking members of the Biden cabinet to test positive

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Mr Austin said he was at home on leave when he came down with symptoms. The Pentagon said he last met with President Biden on December 21 and had tested negative for the virus from then until Sunday’s test. Mr Austin said he was last at the Pentagon on Thursday.

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Other senior White House and Cabinet-level officials who have tested positive in recent months include Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Meyerkas.

Mr Austin said his leadership team and Mr Biden were informed of the test results and that Defense Secretary’s staff is doing contact-tracing among people with whom he had been in contact over the past week.

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Mr Austin said he would quarantine for five days in accordance with CDC guidelines.

The Pentagon requires all members of the armed services to be vaccinated or at risk of being discharged from the US military, although they have allowed the services to determine how to enforce their order.

While more than 90% of the military is currently vaccinated, those who have yet to comply account for thousands of service members. The services have administratively started discharging soldiers who have refused vaccination.

Mr Austin said he had been fully vaccinated and that being vaccinated would continue to be a requirement for the military.

“As my doctor has clarified to me, my fully immunized status – and the booster I received in early October – has made the infection more mild,” Mr Austin said in his statement. “Vaccines work and will continue to be a military medical necessity for our workforce. I continue to encourage everyone deserving of a booster shot to get one. It remains a preparation issue. ,

Write Nancy A. Joseph at [email protected]

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