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White House implemented new policy for high-ranking officials due to Austin's hospitalization

White House implemented new policy for high-ranking officials due to Austin's hospitalization U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (photo: Getty Images)

The U.S. presidential administration has announced a new policy of delegating responsibilities to top officials. This decision comes in response to the unplanned and sudden hospitalization of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, which disrupted the functioning of government structures, according to Bloomberg.

The White House Chief of Staff, Jeff Zients, outlined new procedures in a memorandum that Cabinet Secretaries are now required to adhere to.

According to the memorandum, Cabinet members must inform the Cabinet Affairs Office and the White House Chief of Staff when they are preparing for hospitalization, medical procedures requiring general anesthesia, or travel to areas with restricted or no communication access.

Senior officials who are tasked with temporarily assuming the responsibilities of Cabinet Secretaries during illness or leave must maintain communication with their colleagues in the White House. Additionally, leaders are mandated to document each instance of the transfer or return of responsibilities in writing to the head of the Cabinet.

"Through this process we are assured that all agencies have a set of standard protocols they must follow in the event of a delegation of authority," stated Zients.

Austin successfully recovers

Meanwhile, according to medical reports, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is recovering successfully after undergoing surgery for prostate cancer and subsequent complications that led to a two-week hospitalization.

On Friday, the 70-year-old Pentagon chief visited the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland for a routine check-up. He will return to the office on Monday, January 29, following several days of working from home.

"He continues to recover well and is expected to make a full recovery. Secretary Austin’s prostate cancer was treated early and effectively, and his prognosis is excellent," stated doctors.

Illness and emergency hospitalization of Austin

On December 22, 2023, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was transported to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He underwent surgery for prostate cancer, which was detected during a routine examination earlier that month.

However, a week after the intervention, an infection developed in the official, and on January 1, he was admitted to the intensive care unit. President Joe Biden and high-ranking officials in the administration were informed of Austin's hospitalization only on January 4.

On January 15, the Pentagon chief was discharged from the hospital, and he continued working from home.

On January 23, Austin made his first public appearance since the incident, participating in a virtual meeting of the Defense Contact Group in Ukraine from his residence.