Ellen DeGeneres returns to TV and opens up about recovering from COVID-19 in her first show of 2021

By Heather Cichowski

It's a new year, and Ellen DeGeneres is back! The comedian returned to her show for the first time in 2021, with a new episode on Jan. 13, in which the 62-year-old opened up about her recovery from COVID-19.

In December, Ellen announced she had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. At the time, the talk show host said she was following all guidelines put forward by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control about managing and preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Ellen took time to recover and kept fans updated on her condition while she was in isolation by sharing some messages and videos on social media. In the new episode of The Ellen Show, she spoke candidly about those symptoms and the shocking way she found out she had COVID-19.

"Obviously, there's a lot of negative things going on, so I want to talk about something positive: my COVID test," the comedian joked in a preview for the show.

"I was getting ready to tape the show that you were going to be here for, and I was in hair and makeup, getting my face powdered and my extensions put in," she said as she reflected on learning she had contracted COVID-19.

MORE: Ellen DeGeneres says COVID-19 is giving her 'excruciating' back pains

"And then my assistant, Craig, walks in and says, 'You've 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," Ellen revealed, with her trademark humour.

Ellen said she didn't know how she picked up the illness because she had worn a mask and washed her hands. After finding out her diagnosis, she went home and kept her distance from her wife, Portia de Rossi, who was also tested for COVID-19.

"I had to quarantine, and Portia made me sleep in a different room on a different bed because she wanted the race car bed all to herself," Ellen joked.

In a video shared on Twitter in December, Ellen wrote about one surprising COVID-19 symptom of which she hadn't been aware: "excruciating" back pain. During the show, she spoke more about it and how doctors tried to treat it, adding it was the only symptom she had.

"I'm fine now, I'm all good. Everything's clear," she reassured fans.

"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 with socks for a day, so you be the judge."

"The first three days I slept for 16 hours a day. Then the fourth day I woke up with back spasms and thought I'd pulled a muscle or slept weird because I was in a different bed."

Her doctor prescribed painkillers and muscle relaxants, but the painkillers unfortunately didn't help. The host said the pain was so bad it felt like she "had cracked a rib." She was put on a steroid pack, but that led to some "edgy" symptoms, so Ellen stayed on pain pills with the muscle relaxants.

“I’m still on them. I find the muscle relaxers helpful," she explained.

She added others who have tested positive for the virus have also said they've experienced back pain. The comedian still considers herself very fortunate.

"I started to feel better and I'm very fortunate and very blessed," she stated. "I know a lot of people are struggling with this illness right now, my heart goes out to all of them, as always."

In the episode, Ellen also spoke with Dr. Sanjay Gupta about the new strain of COVID-19 and what we can possibly expect. They also discussed how COVID-19 cases are rising in Los Angeles, where The Ellen Show is taped, along with the rollout of vaccines.

We're glad to hear Ellen is doing better!

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