It was the first week of April, and CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin had spent the previous weeks reporting on the dire spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States. She’d interviewed former vice president (and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee) Joe Biden about how he’d fight it, if he were in the Oval Office. She’d spoken to people who’d lost relatives and friends. She was all too aware of the havoc that can be wreaked by the disease this coronavirus causes.
And then she tested positive for it. “It came on suddenly yesterday afternoon. Chills, aches, fever,” she wrote in an Instagram post on April 3. She’d been taking all the recommended precautions, she explained. But the virus had found her. She stressed that she was fine and added that she felt more fortunate than most. She planned to be back on air soon.
While she was out, Baldwin—ever the journalist—intended to document her experience via Instagram. But then things nose-dived. She lost her sense of smell and taste. She didn’t struggle to breathe, as some patients do, and she didn’t have to go to the E.R., but she battled constant, deep-muscle aches. She slept for hours at a time, waking up in a cold sweat, as she wrote in a piece for CNN.
For two full weeks, the virus raged. For the week after that, she tried to rebuild a fraction of her health. And then at last, on April 27, Brooke Baldwin returned to her studio and the airwaves.
Here, Baldwin takes Glamour through that first day back—from morning meditation and preshow butterflies to emails and much-needed rest.
6:15 a.m. Wake up. Butterflies—it feels like I’m going back to school! I have never been away from work for three weeks in my entire 20-year career. (Granted, I wasn’t exactly taking a vacation this time…I was stuck in bed battling and then recovering from COVID-19.)
6:20 a.m. Grab my phone (I know you’re not supposed to do that first thing in the morning, but I totally do—from bed), start skimming email for notes from my producers on what stories we’re looking to book out, scanning the major newspapers, and seeing what the top stories are on CNN.com. I fire off a few emails about guests I’d love to speak to. I know all of our coverage will be centered around the coronavirus—and I realize coming back to work, it’s going to be impossible for me to be entirely objective on the matter.
7:15 a.m. Get my daily sweat on to fire up my body and brain. My ritual is The Class by Taryn Toomey, a woman-run spiritual fitness class. Pre-quarantine, I would haul myself out of bed to her studio in Tribeca several times a week—but now anyone can take a virtual class and stream it from the app onto the TV! The music, the instructors, the empowering message—it is a highlight of my day.
8:00 a.m. Post-class meditation for 15 minutes. My go-to is the Insight Timer App (love Tara Brach). Deep breathe, center myself for the day ahead. Amazing what a little breath work can do especially if I’m feeling overwhelmed.
8:30 a.m. Breakfast with my husband. Post-COVID, my tastes have shifted slightly. I used to eat a warm meal everyday (eggs, turkey sausage, decaf coffee). For now it’s tea and Cheerios with banana and blueberries.
9:00 a.m. Jump on our editorial call to discuss the big stories of the day all around the world—in this case, it’s all COVID-19 and the many angles we need to cover. (While I’m listening, I’m also scrolling through my email to check on the progress of any guest requests my show team has made from early in the morning.)
9:30 a.m. Shower. Ahhhhh.
9:45 a.m. Start doing something I haven’t done in weeks—blow-dry my hair and put on makeup! I know it’s early and I don’t go on air until 1 p.m. on this particular day, but I want to get my eyes done so that’s one less thing I have to deal with when I get to work!
10 a.m. Jump on a call with my executive producer, my senior producer, and my anchor producer so we can go through my show’s two-hour rundown for the day—what guests we’re still working on landing, which angles we want to take on certain stories. We’ve hit the ground running. And while I have my team on speakerphone, I am attempting to curl my hair (again, one less thing to do later).
10:30 a.m. Get picked up and head to CNN at Hudson Yards. I slide into the car and immediately notice this new massive plastic partition between me and the driver—not to mention Clorox wipes in the seat next to me. I take this time to respond to emails and read up on guests who we’ve now booked for the day. I notice much less traffic. Takes no time to get to CNN from my home in downtown Manhattan.
10:50 a.m. Arrive at CNN, remove my face mask once I’m in my office, grab a yogurt, and jump on FaceTime with Randi, my anchor producer, also based in NYC but currently sitting in sweats in her apartment. I log into iNews, our newsroom software, and Randi and I start talking through the guest segments. I’ll add questions I want to ask various guests. On this particular day—my first day back after being sick—I’ve written an essay to read at the top of my show not just about my experience being sick, but also who I want to thank, how a crisis highlights our fault lines, and how despite it all, as Brené Brown says, “We have to be intentional about choosing kindness and generosity.”
11:30 a.m. Jump back on phone with my E.P., senior producer, and Randi to start going over guest segments again—I always welcome more eyeballs and perspectives on segments.
12:30 a.m. I grab a royal-blue blazer out of my closet at work (yes, I keep most of my work clothes in my office at CNN) and take a quick look at myself in the mirror. This time I toss on some powder, lipstick, and blush. Then I run that damn curling iron through my hair for one last pass. (I realize I have been spoiled with a hair and makeup team all these years at CNN. I miss those gals!)
12:45 a.m. As I’m about to walk into the studio (and take a deep breath), my heart starts to pound. I’ve been doing this TV thing for 20 years, but today…I’m a little nervous. Nervous because I feel vulnerable. Vulnerable because I’m about to read this emotional essay straight from my heart. Vulnerable because I think more than a few people might be watching. Vulnerable because I’m about to speak with loved ones who’ve lost a family member to this virus—and I feel so deeply for them. Breathe, Brooke. Breathe.
Brooke Baldwin returns to the anchor chair after a three-week hiatus.
1:00–3:00 p.m. I anchor two hours live on CNN—speaking with guests and correspondents all around the world, including a woman who lost her 32-year-old husband to COVID—32. Gut-wrenching.
3:15 p.m. I run back down to my office, still thinking about that mother of two kids, and jump on the phone with O Magazine. They want to interview me about my return to work and ask about advice I’d have for anyone feeling lonely and isolated in this tough time.
4:15 p.m. Head home.
5:00 p.m. Jump back on email and start chipping away at all the lovely notes I’ve received from friends and well-wishers happy to see me healthy and back on CNN. This is the part of getting sick I hadn’t anticipated—feeling so much love.
5:15 p.m. Talk to my mom. It was a big day. My mom was texting me during my show as she was watching. I want to tell her I love her and “thank you.”
5:30 p.m. Virtual therapy. I believe in having a strong body and a strong mind. FaceTime my therapist.
6:30 p.m. Eat an early dinner with my husband (he was a stud while I was sick—and miraculously, he never showed symptoms!). Sitting in our kitchen, I suddenly feel exhausted. Even though I’ve tested negative for the virus, my doctor warned me that it’ll still take a week or two to feel fully back to myself. The good news is my sense of taste is slowly starting to come back.
7:15 p.m. Check my work email. See what I’ve missed. Glance at stories making news in the evening and see what I might be interested in covering for tomorrow. Fire off an email or two.
8:30 p.m. Crawl into bed. I do not normally crash this early (I can actually be quite the night owl), but I need to listen to my body. And my body is yelling: “Rest!” I grab my laptop and watch the latest episode of Insecure on HBO. LOVE this show.
9:00 p.m. Meditate just before bed. Jesse Israel of The Big Quiet is my go-to at night (on Audible Sleep) with the sound bath. YESSSSS….. And good night!
Mattie Kahn is the culture director at Glamour.
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