Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin announced that he tested positive for Covid-19 earlier that day, despite getting two doses of the vaccine plus a booster shot.
“I tested positive for COVID-19 this morning. I was tested today after exhibiting some symptoms while I was at home on leave,” he said. “I have mild symptoms at this time, and I am following my doctor’s advice. While listening to my doctor, and respecting the CDC guidelines, I will stay under quarantine for the next five days at my home,” he said.
“As my physician made clear to me, my vaccination status — and the booster that I received in early Oct. — have rendered the infection a lot more mild than if I wasn’t vaccinated. And I’m grateful for that,” he said.
“The vaccines do work and we will continue to enforce the vaccine requirement for our personnel. I continue to encourage everyone that is eligible for a booster shot to go out and get one. This continues to be a readiness problem,” he said.
I tested positive this morning for COVID-19. I requested the test today after exhibiting symptoms while at home on leave. My symptoms are mild, and I am following my physician’s directions. 1/7
— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) January 3, 2022
He said he will attend meetings virtually for the rest of this week and that he still retains all authorities. Deputy Sec. Kathleen Hicks will represent him when appropriate and his staff has started testing and contact tracing those with whom he was in contact during the last week.
He said his last meeting with Pres. Joe Biden occurred on Dec. 21, 2021, before he began having symptoms and that he had a negative test that morning. He said Thursday was the last day he visited the Pentagon, where he had a meeting with a few members of his staff. “We wore masks and socially distanced throughout the meeting,” he said.
Austin in Aug. ordered all servicemen to be fully vaccinated or face being separated from the military.
The Marine Corps has separated over 200 active-duty Marines already. The Air Force has separated 27 active-duty airmen. The Army will start separating service members as soon as this month.
Some service members praised Sec. Austin, such as Vin Gupta, who is an NBC News analyst and Air Force major. Gupta sent out a tweet saying, “Thank you, Gen. Austin. Happy you are feeling fine and thank you for emphasizing the crucial benefits of being fully vaccinated. Those of us that are serving in the military medical corps are especially appreciative for your example.”
Thank you, General Austin.
Glad you are feeling okay and thank you for emphasizing the vital benefits of vaccination for all of us.
Those of us serving in the military medical corps – across the active, Reserve and guard corps – are especially grateful for your example. https://t.co/7IVhT299ev
— Dr. Vin Gupta (@VinGuptaMD) January 3, 2022
However, twitter accounts with a large military following noted the irony of Gen. Austin kicking out military members for not getting the vaccine because they’re a risk to readiness, but despite being fully vaccinated he still ended up with Covid-19.
Pentagon officials have claimed that the Covid Vaccine status is a readiness problem. So far, 82 military deaths have been reported, out of 261,504 cases of Covid, according to the DOD statistics.
Author: Blake Ambrose