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'Grey's Anatomy' Will Take On COVID-19 Storylines In Season 17

'Grey's Anatomy' Will Take On COVID-19 Storylines In Season 17
July 21, 2020 - 19:39 / Lucas Anderson

Plans are in place for Grey's Anatomy to address the COVID-19 pandemic when it enters season 17. Executive producer Krista Vernoff has confirmed this development, saying the medical drama will cover storylines on the "medical story of our lifetimes." Read on for her preview of the upcoming season and why the Grey's team wants to take on COVID-19.

"Dr. Meredith Grey" and co. will treat COVID-19 patients in season 17 of Grey's Anatomy. Executive producer Krista Vernoff confirmed this detail during the "Quaranstreaming: Comfort TV That Keeps Us Going" panel that will stream Tuesday evening on Emmys.com.

During the discussion, previewed exclusively by EW, the producer opened up about writing work that's underway for season 17 and how Grey's plans to respond to the medical world's handling of the ongoing crisis.

Grey's Anatomy season 17 to address the COVID-19 pandemic

Vernoff, who's served as a writer, showrunner, and executive producer on Grey's for over a decade, got straight to the point: "We're going to address this pandemic for sure," she said. "There's no way to be a long-running medical show and not do the medical story of our lifetimes."

To properly address the sensitive topic, Vernoff revealed that the writers have been in conversation with real-life doctors who have been on the frontlines during the pandemic. "Every year, we have doctors come and tell us their stories, and usually they're telling their funniest or craziest stories. This year, it has felt more like therapy," she said.

"The doctors come in and we're the first people they're talking to about these types of experiences they're having. They are literally shaking and trying not to cry, they're pale, and they're talking about it as war — a war that they were not trained for."

Grey's Anatomy to integrate COVID-19 into the show's familiar qualities 

While COVID-19 storylines could make for harrowing subject matter, Vernoff recognizes the necessity of the situation. "I feel like our show has an opportunity and a responsibility to tell some of those stories," she said.

Ellen Pompeo as "Dr. Meredith Grey" in Grey's Anatomy.

All the same, Vernoff says the Grey's creative team is committed to sustaining the show that fans have known and loved for 16 seasons. "Our conversations have been constantly about how do we keep alive humor and romance while we tell these really painful stories," she added.

Grey's faced the COVID-19 pandemic's effects on the entertainment world when the production of season 16 was cut short by four episodes. The popular medical drama has yet to return to set on production of season 17, but Vernoff's comments indicate that the team is doing what it can to prepare and do justice to COVID-19 storylines.