Following an unplanned two-week absence due to a family health matter, Hoda Kotb returned to the Today show on Monday. The long-running co-host addressed her temporary leave at the top of the broadcast.
“My youngest [daughter] Hope was in the ICU for a few days and in the hospital for more that a week,” she explained to viewers. “I’m so grateful she’s home. She is back home… and we are watching her closely.
“When your child is ill, the amount of gratitude you can have for people who helped you out… ” she added, fighting back tears. “I’m grateful to the doctors and nurses, I’m grateful to my family and I’m grateful to friends like you [Savannah] who were there every single day. I love you.” (Guthrie, who has been absent since last Wednesday after testing positive for COVID, also returned on Monday).
Kotb had been conspicuously MIA from Today and Today with Hoda and Jenna since Friday, Feb. 17. (Kotb was present for the Feb. 20 Presidents’ Day episode of Today with Hoda and Jenna, but that episode was pre-taped on Feb. 17.) NBC relied on substitute co-hosts — including Today 3rd Hour‘s Craig Melvin and Sheinelle Jones, NBC News Now‘s Tom Llamas and Sunday Today‘s Willie Geist — to fill the void.
Last week, Melvin explained on air that Kotb was taking some time off due to “a family health matter that she’s been dealing with.”
Kotb’s cryptic social media activity during her Today absence only compounded concerns that something was amiss. On Feb. 27, she shared a graphic on Instagram that read, “Choose hope.” A day earlier, she wished her 2.2 million followers a “Happy Sunday,” alongside a graphic that read, “Sometimes miracles are just people with kind hearts.”
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