Rachel Maddow returned on November 19 to host her MSNBC show for the first time in two weeks and revealed the reason for her absence: Her longtime partner, Susan Mikula, was diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Through tears, Maddow described how Mikula’s health deteriorated to the point that they thought “there was a possibility that [COVID-19] might kill her.”
Maddow, 47, taped the episode from her home since she’s still quarantining from being in close contact with Mikula. “She really is the center of my universe,” Maddow said. “I’m one of the lucky people on this earth who has a life like that. … She is the organizing principle of my life. My relationship with Susan is the only thing at the end of the day that I would kill or die for without hesitation.”
“Susan tested positive two weeks ago; we separated from each other that day, because I tested negative, she tested positive,” Maddow continued. “She has gotten sicker and sicker while I’ve tried to care for her while still staying physically apart from her.”
Watch: Rachel @Maddow reports that she's been off the air for most of the past two weeks because her longtime partner Susan Mikula is sick with Covid-19 – so sick that "at one point we really thought that there was a possibility that it might kill her." Mikula is recovering now. pic.twitter.com/MwN7cvQBRz
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 20, 2020
Things are starting to look up for Mikula, whom Maddow has been with since 1999. “She’s recovering,” Maddow said. “She’s still sick but she’s going to be OK, and we’re not scared anymore like we were, but it really didn’t feel like it was going OK at the outset.”
Maddow Told Her Story Because the Upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday Could Be a Superspreader Event
In addition to explaining her absence, Maddow shared the deeper reason she decided to reveal her partner’s COVID-19 diagnosis: the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, which as warned by the CDC, may turn into a nationwide superspreader event if people travel to celebrate indoors with large groups of people.
“Just believe me,” Maddow said in the video. “Whatever you have calculated into your life as acceptable risk, as inevitable risk … something that you’re willing to go through in terms of this virus because, statistically, probably it will be fine for you and your loved ones, I’m just here to tell you to recalibrate that. Frankly, the country needs you to recalibrate that.”
“Broadly speaking, there’s no room for you in the hospital anymore,” Maddow continued. “We’ve got more people in the hospital right now than we’ve had since the beginning of this epidemic. … But please, just also know that whatever you think of your own life and however much risk you’re willing to take on for yourself — that’s not how this works.”
Maddow described how whoever you care for most in life, whoever it is that you love the most, “that’s the person who you may lose.”
Viewers Shared on Twitter How Maddow’s Raw Confessional Brought Them to Tears
.@maddow wins the internet tonight. That was the most sincere and emotional moment I’ve witnessed on real TV in a long time. Made me cry; thank you for sharing your story and the important message, Rachel! Also, glad to hear Susan is doing much better! L pic.twitter.com/38ulO2ZUSA
— Tom and Lorenzo (@tomandlorenzo) November 20, 2020
The name “Susan” started trending nationally on Twitter shortly after Maddow’s show started to air on Thursday evening, with viewers sharing their emotional response to the host’s confessional. CNN’s global affairs analyst Brianna Golodryga tweeted, “You genuinely forget you’re watching tv. This was that raw and emotional. I don’t know how @maddow kept it together for those 7 minutes, but thank God Susan is recovering.”
Thank you for the work you do.
This is my cat, I named her Dr. Rachel Meowddow after you.
Welcome back. pic.twitter.com/T5HXninzrB
— Dustin Snyder (@dsnyder814) November 20, 2020
Awww. @maddow making me cry like a baby.
Love is love is love is love.
Thank you, Rachel. We missed you and are grateful you are well. Praying for Susan. #maddow
— Justthefacts * BidenHarris2020 * VOTE (@Thinknotfearnot) November 20, 2020
My husband has been battle covid since the end of October. Rachel speaking about Susan tonight is everything to me right now #Maddow
— Sara Louise 😷🧼🤲🏼 (@cestmoisaralou) November 20, 2020