The journalist, 58, helmed a prerecorded segment featuring interviews with the late Olivia Newton-John‘s husband, John Easterling, and her daughter, Chloe Lattanzi, whom the Xanadu actress shared with ex Matt Lattanzi. Before the clip aired, anchor Sheinelle Jones noted that Kotb “recently” spoke to the Grease star’s family.
When the episode began, Jones, 44, and coanchor Craig Melvin told viewers that Kotb and Savannah Guthrie were both “out” for the day. Guthrie, 51, left Today early on Tuesday, February 28, after testing positive for COVID-19.
Melvin, 43, later assured fans that both Guthrie and Kotb will “be back with us soon.”
Before Friday’s segment, Kotb hadn’t appeared on the show since February 20 when she featured in a pre-taped segment with cohost Jenna Bush Hager. During the Monday, February 27, episode, Guthrie told viewers that her colleague was simply “off today.”
Two days later, Melvin confirmed that the Oklahoma native was away from the show dealing with a personal issue.
“We mentioned that Savannah and Hoda are both off. Savannah, she’s home after a positive COVID test yesterday. We are wishing our friend a speedy recovery,” the NBC reporter explained on Wednesday, March 1. “And as for Hoda, we know a lot of you have been wondering how she’s doing. We can tell you that Hoda’s OK. She’s got a family health matter that she’s been dealing with, so we look forward to seeing Hoda and Savannah back at the desk real, real soon.”
Today show weatherman Al Roker added: “We love you both.”
Later in the episode, Bush Hager, 41, gave fans a similar update on Kotb’s whereabouts. “Willie [Geist] is in for Hoda,” the Sisters First coauthor explained. “And we just want to let you all know that we heard you, and Hoda is OK. She’s just got a family health matter that she’s been dealing with.”
The Texas native added that she and her Today colleagues are hopeful that the children’s book author will be back on the air in the near future. “We adore her, we’re sending our love to her, and she’s going to be back, right here, very, very soon,” Bush Hager told viewers.
Geist, 47, added: “Can’t wait to see her back here. We love you very much, Hoda.”
Kotb, for her part, has not publicly commented on her absence from Today, simply sharing a cryptic Instagram post on Monday that read, “Choose Hope.”