“It's just so surreal to be working from home, broadcasting from home and trying to figure out schooling at home with the kids,” Savannah Guthrie says

By Charlotte Triggs
April 13, 2020 02:42 PM
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Brian Doben

For the last several weeks, Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie have been getting used to unusual working arrangements for their daily broadcast of the Today show.

For Guthrie, that has meant largely working from home—first as a preventative measure, after she had cold symptoms, and now as a time-saver rather than commute two hours a day each way to the Today show from her family home. Kotb, on the other hand, has her run of NBC’s midtown Manhattan studios as one of the only employees still reporting to work there, apart from the 9 o’clock hour’s Craig Melvin, the security guard and a cameraman working four cameras at once from a control room.

“It’s just so surreal to be working from home, broadcasting from home and trying to figure out schooling at home with the kids,” says Guthrie, 48, who is staying at her upstate New York home with her husband Michael Feldman and kids Vale, 5, and Charlie, 3. “So, like everyone, just trying to juggle this new normal.”

Though the Today show’s co-anchors will reunite in person for the primetime special, NBC News Special Report: Coronavirus Pandemic on Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET — sitting at a safe distance, with only minimal staff on-hand — they’ve had to practice doing their jobs essentially in isolation.

Guthrie has set up a fully operational news studio from her basement. “NBC set up a robotic camera that they actually operate remotely from 30 Rock. They have a bunch of lights set up, a teleprompter, a huge monitor behind me. I have a computer and a printer and it’s set now that the producers can actually print my scripts straight from the control room,” she says.

Her husband Michael has begun waking up early to help out. “He sets up the shot, he does the mic check, IFB check, all the kinds of technical checks that have to take place so they know that the signal is coming across correctly,” she says. “He’s working morning show hours and then going upstairs and working a whole other job.”

It’s help she’s had to lean on, with an increasingly dire slate of news stories to report that require serious prep, and simple things like having to do her own hair and makeup. “I truly could not do it without him,” she says.

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For Kotb, who has continued broadcasting from the show’s studio at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, “It’s very strange. I’ve never seen 30 Rock quiet — I don’t care if to come in at two in the morning!”

Kotb has been waking up at 3 a.m. (rather than her usual 4:15) so she can commute in to the city from her weekend home, prep for the day, mic herself and do her own hair and makeup, another novelty.

“It’s totally weird. I hate to say that I’m so naive, but I didn’t know how one of those big steamers worked, to steam clothes,” Kotb says. “So today all my [clothes] were in a ball. I went into the wardrobe room and I literally was steaming the place up right after I had done my hair. It’s the small things that trip you up and make you realize how much we need every single person we work with.”

Although news anchors like Chris Cuomo, Brooke Baldwin and George Stephanopolous have tested positive for coronavirus, Kotb says she’s not worried about any personal risk. (She and Guthrie also lost a colleague, NBC News audio technician Larry Edgeworth, to the disease last month.)

“I literally get in the car and come in here to an empty building and then get back in the car and go back to my house. I feel like the building’s not sick and it’s empty. So I don’t really feel a risk,” she says.

But she’s taking extra precautions anyway when she returns to the home she shares with fiancé Joel Schiffman and daughters Haley, 3, and Hope, 1. “When I get home, I strip, I shower, throw my stuff right in the wash,” she says. “Because you’re in the city and sometimes you have to go to a grocery store to pick up something, it seems like the safest idea.”

As of Monday morning, there have been at least 555,371 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and 22,056 deaths. The U.S. now has the highest number of cases worldwide by a large margin, though the true numbers are likely far higher because sufficient testing has not been available.

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.