"The first three days, I slept for 16 hours a day," she recalled

By Eric Todisco
January 13, 2021 10:36 AM
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Ellen DeGeneres is opening up about her experience with COVID-19.

The comedian, 62, returned to host The Ellen DeGeneres Show for the first episode of 2021 on Wednesday, a month after the show paused production when DeGeneres tested positive for the virus.

"I tested positive before the holidays," she told her virtual audience. "I'm fine now, everything's good, I'm all clear. I want to thank everyone who reached out with kind words of support."

She said she first learned of her diagnosis just as she was preparing to tape an episode of her long-running show.

"I was getting ready to tape the show and I was in hair and makeup. Then my assistant Craig walks in and says, 'You tested positive for COVID,'" she recalled. "And then everyone around me ran away. I left the studio immediately and our COVID safety team informed everyone that I had been in contact with."

Ellen DeGeneres
| Credit: Warner Bros.

DeGeneres continued: "I went home, obviously, I had to to quarantine. Portia [de Rossi] made me sleep in a different room on a different bed because she wanted the race car bed all to herself. The first three days, I slept for 16 hours a day. And then on the fourth day, I woke up with back spasms. It just persisted and the doctor put me on pain pills and muscle relaxers."

She said the "pain killers did not help" and that it "felt like I cracked a rib." She was then given a steroid pack from doctors, which she said helped ease the discomfort.

"That's the only symptom I had," she said of her back pain. "I didn't have a headache, I didn't have a fever, I didn't lose my sense of taste. I started to feel better and I am very fortunate and very, very blessed. That was it for me."

"The weird thing is I don't know where I got it," DeGeneres added of contracting the virus. "I wear a mask, I wash my hands. It's a mystery to me how that would happen."

Ellen DeGeneres
| Credit: Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

DeGeneres first announced the news of her diagnosis on Dec. 10, sharing in a statement on social media that she "tested positive for Covid-19."

"Fortunately, I'm feeling fine right now," she added at the time. "Anyone who has been in close contact with me has been notified, and I am following all proper CDC guidelines."

"Please stay healthy and safe," she concluded. "Love, Ellen."

On Dec. 31, a spokesperson for Telepictures told PEOPLE that production's initial early January return date had been pushed back by a week due to a spike in COVID-19 cases within Los Angeles County.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show had been filming without an in-studio audience and with a mix of virtual and in-person celebrity guests since season 18 premiered in September.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.