Top Pentagon Official Has COVID Despite Vaccination

( The fully-vaccinated and boosted Secretary of Defense who often parades around in public wearing both a mask and a face shield tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.

In a statement on Sunday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced he was COVID-positive but was experiencing only mild symptoms. He said he would spend the week in quarantine at home and planned to attend key meetings and discussions virtually “to the degree possible.” In his absence, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks would represent him when needed.

Austin said his staff is conducting contact tracing and testing of anyone he interacted with over the previous week. He also acknowledged that he last met President Biden in person on December 21, more than a week before he started experiencing symptoms. President Biden’s COVID test on Sunday was negative.

Austin, 68, was fully-vaccinated and received a booster vaccine in October. After experiencing symptoms while at home on leave, he requested a COVID test Sunday as a precaution.

In his statement, the COVID-positive Austin reiterated that the vaccines work and he remained committed to the mandate to require all military personnel to get vaccinated, arguing that vaccines remain a “readiness issue.” He also urged anyone eligible to get a booster shot.

On Monday, a federal judge granted a temporary injunction against the vaccine mandate for Navy SEALs who sued the Biden administration because they were seeking a religious exemption.

US District Court Judge Reed O’Connor from the Northern District of Texas issued a stay in response to a November lawsuit filed by First Liberty Institute on behalf of 35 active-duty SEALS and three reservists seeking a religious exemption.

In his ruling, Judge O’Connor said the pandemic does not provide the government license to “abrogate” the freedoms these SEALS “have sacrificed so much to protect.” O’Connor noted that there is “no military exclusion from our Constitution.”

O’Connor’s ruling comes just as the thousands of US Marines face potential discharge for refusing to get the vaccine before the required December 28 deadline.