Pentagon chief tests positive for Covid — is experiencing mild symptoms: report
U.S. Central Command 2013 official portrait of Lloyd Austin.

The Pentagon revealed on Sunday that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has tested positive for coronavirus.

"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," Austin said in a statement released Sunday evening.

"Stemming the spread of this virus, safeguarding our workforce and ensuring my own speedy and safe recovery remain my priorities. To the degree possible, I plan to attend virtually this coming week those key meetings and discussions required to inform my situational awareness and decision making. I will retain all authorities. Deputy Secretary Hicks will represent me as appropriate in other matters," he explained.

Austin said he has not met with Biden since Dec. 21 and that his staff has begun contact tracing.

"As my doctor made clear to me, my fully vaccinated status — and the booster I received in early October — have rendered the infection much more mild than it would otherwise have been. And I am grateful for that," Austin said. "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."

The positive result occurred the same day Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the U.S. would "respond decisively" if Russia invades.