Ellen DeGeneres details coronavirus battle in first return to talk show in 2021

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Ellen DeGeneres on Wednesday returns to her daytime talk show for the first time in 2021 after battling the coronavirus. 

DeGeneres, 62, revealed on Dec. 10 that she tested positive for COVID-19. Despite “feeling fine” at the time, she confirmed she would not be returning to the small screen until after the holidays.

Upon her return to the stage, DeGeneres wishes viewers a “Happy New Year” and discusses what her experience with COVID-19 was like.

“Obviously there are a lot of negative things going on so instead I want to talk about something postiive: my COVID test. So I tested positive before the holidays. I’m fine now, everything’s good. I’m all clear. I want to thank everyone who reached out with kind words of support. I wish I could have hugged every one of you. That would have been dangerous and illegal probably,” DeGeneres laughs.


Ellen DeGeneres describes her COVID-19 symptoms in her first episode of ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ in 2021.
(Christopher Polk/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

The daytime host goes on to explain that she learned of her positive test result while she was at her studio. She said Wednesday’s audience is the same group who was virtually in attendance in mid-December but due to her diagnosis, the episode was postponed.

“So alright this is what happened you guys. I was getting ready to tape the show that you were going to be here for. I was in hair and makeup and getting my face powdered and my extensions put in. Then my assistant Craig walks in and says, ‘You tested positive for COVID.’ And then everyone around me ran away. It’s funny people just really get scared. Some have not come back since. Anyway, I left the studio immediately and our COVID safety team informed everyone I had been in contact with,” she explains.

DeGeneres jokes that her executive producer “literally ran in full speed off the lot” after he was told of her positive test result.

DeGeneres said she then quarantined at home away from her wife, Portia de Rossi, who slept in a different bed.


“Portia made me sleep in a different room on a different bed because she wanted the racecar bed all to herself,” DeGeneres quips. 

The daytime talk show host explains her only symptom was intense back pain.
(Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

The host went on to share that she slept for “16 hours a day” during the first three days of her COVID-19 battle. On the fourth day, she began experiencing intense back pain.

“I woke up with back spasms. I thought I had pulled a muscle or slept weird because I was in a different bed. It just persisted. The doctor put me on pain pills and muscle relaxers – jackpot!  Finally this thing is paying off,” she says.

DeGeneres notes that her back only “got worse” on the painkillers.

“It felt like I cracked a rib,” she admits.


She went on to say her doctor ultimately put her on a steroid pack in addition to muscle relaxers and pain pills.

“Here’s the thing about steroids: They make you really speedy and really edgy so the best thing to do I decided was to stay on the muscle relaxers and pain pills with the steroid pack to balance it out. I don’t know if that’s the best way. I’m not a doctor but that’s what I did,” she continues.

DeGeneres adds that she’s since learned of others who have experienced back pain as a symptom of COVID-19.

“I’m not saying if you have back pain you have COVID but it is a symptom. It’s the only symptom I had. I didn’t have a headache, I didn’t have a fever, I didn’t lose my sense of taste. Although I did wear crocs for a day so you be the judge,” she adds.

DeGeneres concludes that she’s “very fortunate” to be better but is still curious about where she contracted the novel coronavirus.

“I wear a mask, I wash my hands, I only licked three or four door handles, so it’s a mystery to me how that would happen,” she jokes, along with a message to those who are still suffering from the illness. “My heart goes out to all of them as always. I hope this show will give you some joy, brighten your day.”

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