Austin said he last met with President Joe Biden on December 21 and that morning his test was negative. He said he was last at the Pentagon on Thursday. “I met with — and only briefly — a few members of our staff. We were properly masked and socially distanced,” Austin said.
“As much as possible, I plan to participate in the important meetings and discussions this coming week that are essential to my situational awareness and decision-making. I will retain all officers,” Austin said.
Austin also spoke about the benefits of the vaccine. “As my doctor explained to me, my fully vaccinated status – and the booster I received in early October – has made the infection much milder than it should have been. And I’m grateful for that.” ”
“Vaccines work and will continue to be a military medical need for our workforce. I continue to encourage everyone who is eligible for a booster shot. It’s a readiness issue,” he said.
This story has been updated with additional background.
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