Ellen DeGeneres on having COVID-19: 'It felt like I cracked a rib'

·3 min read

Ellen DeGeneres opened up about her battle with COVID-19 during her first show back on the air in 2021.

The daytime talk show host candidly (and rather amusingly) detailed her experience with the deadly virus, which she contracted in December and led to The Ellen DeGeneres Show shutting down production early.

"Obviously, there are a lot of negative things going on, so instead I want to talk about something positive — my COVID test," DeGeneres quipped at the start of her Wednesday telecast.

"I was getting ready to tape the show ... I was in hair and makeup ... and then my assistant Craig walks in and says, 'You tested positive for COVID' – and then everyone around me ran away," DeGeneres said. "They ran. Some haven't come back since."

DeGeneres said she left the studio immediately and everybody she had been in contact with was informed.

"I had to quarantine and Portia [de Rossi] made me sleep in a different room, on a different bed, because she wanted the racecar bed all to herself," she said.

DeGeneres then detailed her battle with the virus, noting she slept 16 hours a day for the first three days. "Then on the fourth day I woke up with back spasms, and I thought I pulled a muscle because I was in a different bed, but it just persisted and the doctor put me on pain pills and muscle relaxers – jackpot, this thing is finally paying off. But the pain pills did not help. My back got worse. It felt like I cracked a rib ... the doctors finally put me on a steroid pack, because the other stuff was not working, but here's the thing about steroids: They make you really speedy and really edgy ... I'm still on them, I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, I find the muscle relaxers helpful."

DeGeneres noted her surprise that back pain was a symptom of COVID and, as many others have discovered, some people with COVID only have a single symptom. "That was my only symptom. I didn't have a headache, I didn't have fever, I didn't lose my sense of taste – although I did wear Crocs with socks for a day, so you be the judge."

DeGeneres concluded by noting she's feeling recovered and "is very blessed," though added she still doesn't know how she contracted it. "I wear a mask. I wash my hands. I only lick three or four door handles. So it's a mystery to me."

The resumption of The Ellen DeGeneres Show follows a roller coaster year for the talk show host. During the summer of 2020, DeGeneres went from being a daytime queen with the mantra "be kind" to a vilified figure, particularly on social media. A slew of employees and others accused the trailblazing host of fostering a toxic work environment that included allegations of sexual misconduct, racism, and a "culture of fear." Studio Warner Bros. launched an investigation that led to a trio of producers leaving the show and DeGeneres issuing several public apologies before and after launching her 18th season last September.

"I learned that things happened here that never should have happened," she told her audience during her season premiere. "I take that very seriously. And I want to say, I am so sorry to the people who were affected. I know that I'm in a position of privilege and power. I realized that with that comes responsibility and I take responsibility for what happens at my show. This is The Ellen DeGeneres Show. I am Ellen DeGeneres. My name is there. My name is there. My name is on underwear. We have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, our workplace, and what we want for the future. We have made the necessary changes. And today we are starting a new chapter."

For the latest information on coronavirus (COVID-19), including how to protect yourself and what to do if you think you are sick, please visit coronavirus.gov.

Related content: