March 1, 2023 | 10:24 a.m.
Jenna Bush Hager has opened up about the mysterious absence of her “Today” co-anchor Hoda Kotb after the show revealed the veteran reporter was dealing with a “family health issue.”
“Willie (Geist) is in for Hoda, and we just want to let you know that we heard you, and Hoda is fine,” Bush Hager told viewers headlining “Today with Hoda & Jenna” on Wednesday.
“She just has a family health issue that she’s taking care of,” the author added.
Bush Hager, 41, and Geist, 47, both stressed that they “love” and “adore” Kotb, 58, and look forward to his return to work.
“Today” first addressed Kotb’s nearly two-week absence from his usual two slots on NBC’s morning show and his fourth hour earlier Wednesday, around 7:30 a.m. ET.
“We know many of you are wondering how she is. We can tell you that Hoda is fine, (but) she has a family health issue that she is dealing with,” Craig Melvin, co-host of “3rd Hour of Today,” who replaced Kotb in the early hours of the show, announced.
Melvin, 43, pointed out that they “look forward to seeing Hoda and Savannah (Guthrie) back here in the office very, very soon” COVID 19.
“We love you both,” Al Roker concluded, giving the camera an airy kiss.
Several fans have expressed concerns for the staple show “Today,” which hasn’t hosted a live show since Feb. 17. (She appeared in the Feb. 20 episode, but it was pre-recorded due to Presidents Day.)
Kotb herself has yet to address her absence, but fans started to “worry” after she went from posting photos with her family to strictly sharing inspirational quotes on Instagram.
“Choose hope,” read Monday’s most recent post, while another said: “Sometimes miracles are just good people with kind hearts.”
She also shared sentiments that speak of “strong” and “brave” people finding light through “dark clouds.”
Thousands of Kotb fans have left comments wishing him well since his absence became more noticeable.
Amid his furlough, Geist and “Today 3rd Hour” anchor Sheinelle Jones have stopped filling in for Kotb for the past week and a half.
Jones also replaced her on the “Today” show, along with her “Today 3rd Hour” co-host Craig Melvin, “Today” show regular Al Roker, Tom Llamas of “World News Tonight” and Carson Daly.
Kotb shares two daughters — Haley Joy, 5, and Hope Catherine, 3 — with her ex-fiancé, Joel Schiffman.