Dr. Jennifer Ashton has gone from busy to busier.
As ABC News’ chief medical correspondent, the OB-GYN with her own private practice in New Jersey typically appears on-air every morning, which means she wakes up at five o’clock in the morning. Two days per week, she would go straight to her medical office from “Good Morning America” to see patients until the evening at which point, she would go home and write her segment for the next morning.
Nowadays, that schedule seems very manageable. In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, Ashton has taken lead on ABC’s coverage, which has become an all-consuming responsibility.
“My days used to be very full, but also very diverse,” Ashton says of her typical 14-hour work days. Now, her focus has shifted to television responsibilities all the time, in order to serve viewers with the information they so desperately crave during the unprecedented pandemic.
To support social distancing measures, Ashton has temporarily closed her medical offices, which is now only operating on telemedicine, aside from emergencies. However, her patients always come first — even if some needs a prescription filled, while she’s on set. “When I get a text or an email or a call, that immediately goes to the top of my list,” she says of her patients, six of whom she recently helped diagnose with COVID-19, encouraging them to go to drive-through test centers. “It was my choice to shift my practice to telemedicine, in order to converse PPE’s like latex gloves, and also to help reduce spread of coronavirus.”
As ABC’s top medical correspondent, Ashton’s days are now jam-packed with back-to-back segments. In addition to her regular shows like “Good Morning America,” “World News Tonight,” “Nightline,” “20/20,” “ABC News Special Reports” and the network’s new daytime pandemic-centric series, Ashton regularly receives countless interview requests across media, like other TV doctors who are also covering the pandemic. Many days, Ashton is seen on the local New York affiliate, WABC-TV, ESPN, “The Dr. Oz Show” or co-hosting “The View.” She’s also tasked with radio interviews and taping PSAs for ABC News affiliates.
On Mar. 20, Ashton began to experience mild symptoms, so as a precaution, she began to work from home as part of her voluntary quarantine. She immediately felt better, but remains in her home where she is set up with a studio, like many other broadcasters across various networks.
Here, Dr. Jennifer Ashton provided a sample of her typical schedule, while covering the coronavirus pandemic, before she began working from home. (Though she no longer commutes from point A to point B, the bulk of her schedule remains the same.)
5:00 A.M. — Wake up.
5:00-6:00 A.M. — Read latest medical reports from New England Journal of Medicine, WHO, The Lancet. Do some meditation, pushups, self-care rituals. Get ready for “Good Morning America.”
6:00 A.M. — Leave for “Good Morning America” studio.
6:15-7:00 A.M. — Prepare for “Good Morning America” segments at studio.
7:00-9:00 A.M. — On-air for “Good Morning America” for one to three segments per day.
9:30-10:30 A.M. — Tape ABC News’ new daytime program, “Pandemic: What You Need to Know” with Amy Robach, which airs weekdays in the afternoon.
11:00 A.M.-1:00 P.M. — Most days, on-air live for “ABC News Special Report” with George Stephanopoulos, covering the Presidential Task Force daily press conferences.
1:00-4:00 P.M. — Research latest developments on COVID-19, return phone calls from medical patients, exercise and 20-minute power nap.
4:00 P.M. — Return to ABC News Headquarters and prepare for “World News Tonight with David Muir.”
6:30-7:00 P.M. — Answer viewer questions on “World News Tonight.”
7:30-8:00 P.M. — Tape “Nightline” on a daily basis.
8:00 P.M. — Return home and spend time with children, Alex and Chloe.
9:15 P.M. — Bedtime.