Ellen: ‘Everyone around me ran away’
Ellen DeGeneres has returned to The Ellen Show a month after a coronavirus diagnosis forced her to take an early end-of-year break from the embattled daytime program.
"Obviously there are a lot of negative things going on, so I wanted to talk about something positive - my COVID test," DeGeneres said in her opening monologue, revealing that she discovered she had tested positive while in hair and make-up backstage before a show taping.
Her assistant Craig delivered the news she had coronavirus. "And then everyone around me ran away. It's funny, people just really get scared. They ran … some have not come back since," she joked.
"So anyway, I left the studio immediately and our COVID safety team informed everyone I had been in contact with. They told [executive producer] Andy Lassner and he ran at full speed off the lot, which is amazing - I didn't realise you could run."
"When I heard COVID, I took off," Lassner confirmed from the audience.
DeGeneres then detailed her time quarantining at home, sleeping in a different room to wife Portia de Rossi.
"This is my experience with COVID: The first three days, I slept for 16 hours a day. And then on the fourth day, I woke up with back spasms and thought I had pulled a muscle. It just persisted and the doctor put me on pain pills and muscle relaxers - jackpot, finally this thing is paying off!"
DeGeneres said the back pain got worse until "it felt like I had cracked a rib". She experienced no other symptoms: "I didn't have a headache, I didn't have a fever, I didn't lose my sense of taste … I'm very blessed that that was it for me.
"The weird thing is I still don't know where I got it. I wear a mask, I wash my hands, I only lick three or four door handles, so it's a mystery."
DeGeneres had announced her diagnosis on December 10 via Twitter, writing: "Hi Everyone, I want to let you all know that I tested positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, I'm feeling fine right now. Anyone who has been in close contact with me has been notified, and I am following all proper CDC guidelines."
The diagnosis forced the show to go into an early end-of-year hiatus.
It capped off a horror 2020 for DeGeneres, who returned to TV in September after months off the air, and directly addressed the toxic workplace scandal that had tarnished her image.
"As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show and then there was an investigation," she told viewers on her return.
"I learned that things happened here that never should've happened.
"I take that very seriously, and I want to say I'm so sorry to the people who were affected."
DeGeneres' diagnosis came shortly after insiders revealed her show's producers were struggling to attract celebrity guests and advertisers after a year of negative headlines.
"I wouldn't set up anyone on her show right now to do anything that could possibly cause them more negative headlines," one publicist told Buzzfeed.
Originally published as Ellen: 'Everyone around me ran away'