Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III

I tested positive this morning for COVID-19. I requested the test today after showing symptoms while at home on leave.

My symptoms are mild and I am following my doctor’s instructions.

In accordance with these instructions and as directed by the CDC, I will quarantine myself at home for the next five days.

Stemming the spread of this virus, protecting our workforce and ensuring my own speedy and safe recovery remain my top priorities. Where possible, I plan to virtually attend key meetings and discussions this coming week as needed to inform my situational awareness and decision making. I will retain all the authorities. Assistant Secretary Hicks will represent me as appropriate on other matters.

I have informed my management team of my positive test result, as well as the President. My staff have started tracing contacts and testing everyone I have come in contact with over the past week.

My last meeting with President Biden was on Tuesday, December 21, more than a week before I started to experience symptoms. I tested negative the same morning. I haven’t been to the Pentagon since Thursday, where I met briefly – and only – a few of my staff. We were properly masked and socially distanced throughout.

As my doctor made clear to me, my fully vaccinated status – and the booster I received in early October – made the infection much milder than it otherwise would have been. And I am grateful for it.

Vaccines work and will remain a military medical requirement for our workforce. I continue to encourage everyone who is eligible for a booster shot to get one. It remains a problem of preparation.