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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tests positive for COVID

Politics

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stands with Lithuania’s Minister of Defense Arvydas Anusauskas during an honor cordon upon his arrival at the Pentagon in Washington, Monday, Dec. 13, 2021. In a statement Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, Austin said he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms while quarantining at home. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Sunday he has tested positive for COVID-19 and was 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.

Austin said he last met with President Joe Biden on Dec. 21, more than a week before he began to experience symptoms, and had tested negative the morning of that day.

“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.”

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 Biden’s Cabinet, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, tested positive for COVID-19.

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