US defence secretary tests positive for coronavirus

In a statement posted to his Twitter
account, Austin said he had tested positive for the virus Sunday morning, after
experiencing symptoms while at home on leave.

“My symptoms are mild, and I am
following my physician’s directions,” Austin said, adding that he planned to
quarantine at home for the next five days while virtually attending key
meetings and discussions “to the degree possible.”

“I will retain all authorities,” he
said, adding that Kathleen Hicks, deputy secretary of defence, would represent
him as appropriate in other matters.

In sharing his diagnosis, Austin
stressed that his fully vaccinated status — including a booster received in
early October — was to thank for his mild symptoms.

“I am grateful,” Austin said, adding
that vaccines remained a requirement for the military. He added: “The vaccines

President Joe Biden and other White House
staff had been informed of Austin’s diagnosis, and contact tracing was being
conducted, Austin added, noting that his last meeting with Biden had been more
than a week prior, and that he had received a negative test result for the
virus that morning.

“I have not been in the Pentagon since
Thursday, where I met briefly & only with a few staff,” Austin tweeted. “We
were properly masked & socially distanced throughout.”

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