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Rachel Maddow says her partner has COVID-19, at one point thought it 'might kill her'

The MSNBC anchor implored Americans to stay home this Thanksgiving. "Do whatever you can to keep from getting it," she said.
Image: Late Night with Seth Meyers - Season 4
Rachel Maddow during an interview with Seth Meyers on Dec. 21, 2016.Lloyd Bishop / NBCU Photo Bank
/ Source: TODAY

MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow made an impassioned plea on Thursday night live from her home after announcing her partner of 21 years, Susan Mikula, had fallen ill with the coronavirus.

Calling Mikula the "center" of her life, the TV personality said her partner had been sick for the past few weeks, "and at one point, we really thought there was a possibility that it might kill her."

"She’s gotten sicker and sicker, while I tried to care for her while still staying physically apart from her," Maddow said, explaining her absence from the airwaves. "And the bottom line is that she’s going to be fine, she’s recovering, she’s still sick but she’s going to be OK."

Maddow said she had continued to test negative for COVID-19 since Mikula's diagnosis. She added that she'd stayed up all night, "freaking out" and calling doctors, "trying to figure out how to keep (Mikula) breathing and out of the hospital."

She implored people to stay home for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, citing her own experience as a cautionary tale.

"Whatever you have calculated into your life as acceptable risk, as inevitable risk, something you’re willing to go through in terms of this virus because statistically ... probably it’ll be fine for you and your loved ones, I’m just here to tell you to recalibrate that," she said. "What you need to know is that whoever is the most important person in your life — whoever you most love and most care for and most cherish in the world — that’s the person who you may lose."

She added Thanksgiving "is going to suck" but it will "suck so much less than you or somebody in your family getting this and getting sick. Trust me."

"I’m guessing that you might be willing to risk yourself. Especially after all these months and all this time, it’s so frustrating," she said. "I would’ve done anything, I would’ve moved mountains for it to have been me who was sick these past couple of weeks instead of Susan. I still would. But this thing does not give you that choice."

"It won’t necessarily be you, it’ll be the person you most care about in the world, and all you can do to stop that is move heaven and earth to not get it and to not transmit it."

Maddow's warning comes on the heels of a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation Thursday telling the country to avoid travel for the upcoming holiday.

The recommendation was not a mandate for people to stay home, but the nation's leading scientists hope it will curb what's sure to be yet another dangerous spike in COVID-19 cases if families gather next week.

"In the last week, we've seen over a million new cases," Erin Sauber-Schatz, head of the CDC's Community Interventions and Critical Populations Task Force, said Thursday. "Thanksgiving is a week away."

Maddow echoed their sentiments in her passionate speech Thursday night.

"This thing is scary as hell and whatever you’ve been willing to do to risk getting it, don’t. Just don’t."

CORRECTION (11/19/2020): An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Maddow and Mikula had been together for 27 years. They have been together for 21, and this story has been updated to reflect that.