Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Touches Down in the Philippines Sporting Face Shield

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Touches Down in the Philippines Sporting Face Shield

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin landed in the Philippines during his weeklong trip to East Asia on Thursday, wearing a face shield as he exited the plane and greeted Filipino officials.

He also fist-bumped officials instead of shaking hands or bumping elbows.

Austin tweeted out footage of his arrival, with the caption: “Wheels down in the Philippines.”

Filipino military officials were also wearing face shields.

Wheels down in the Philippines. pic.twitter.com/S8kjbTKMxW

— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) July 29, 2021

Austin was not seen wearing a face shield during his previous stops in Singapore and Vietnam and his reason for doing so the Philippines remains unclear. He did, however, wear masks in both countries.

It's been nearly 55 years since the late @SenJohnMcCain crashed into Truc Bach lake, before spending the next five-and-a-half years as a POW in Hoa Lo prison. Visiting this marker earlier today was certainly a sobering and humbling experience. pic.twitter.com/Ujf7v9bpmU

— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) July 29, 2021

Austin is vaccinated against the Chinese coronavirus, according to a tweet he sent out on June 4.

I got my COVID-19 shots. I hope you will too. It will take all of us to control this virus. #WeCanDoThispic.twitter.com/sZKl2Qv7Jx

— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) June 4, 2021

Austin landing in a face shield comes one day after the Department of Defense ordered all personnel, civilian and military, to wear masks indoors at all installations, regardless of vaccination status, marking a reversal of its policy of allowing vaccinated individuals to refrain from masking.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) this week issued guidance that people wear masks indoors in areas of high transmissibility.

The Biden administration also this week issued a vaccine mandate for American federal employees, except for the military, which cannot be forced to take a vaccine that is under Emergency Use Authorization and not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The Pentagon is widely expected to mandate the vaccine once the FDA gives it approval, however. Pentagon officials have said there are discussions at senior levels to look at that option once the FDA approves the coronavirus vaccines.

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Kristina Wong