Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has COVID, says he's vaccinated and symptoms are mild

FILE - Sec. of Defense Lloyd J. Austin listens as he testifies before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III announced on Sunday that he has COVID-19.

In a thread on Twitter, Austin 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. In keeping with those directions, and in accordance with CDC guidelines, I will quarantine myself at home for the next five days. Stemming the spread of this virus, safeguarding our workforce, and ensuring my own speedy and safe recovery remain my priorities."

Austin said that his last meeting with President Joe Biden was on Dec. 21, more than a week before he started exhibiting symptoms, and that he and others remained masked and socially distant during all work activities at the Pentagon.

Austin said that he is grateful he has had three vaccine shots, and that his mild symptoms are proof vaccines work: "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."