TV & Movies

Grey's Anatomy Season 17 Will Bring COVID-19 To Grey Sloan Memorial

Showrunner Krista Vernoff confirmed the pandemic will be "addressed."

Bonnie Osborne/ABC

Grey Sloan Memorial is ready to scrub into some real life issues. Once production is finally able to resume, Grey's Anatomy Season 17 plans to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, which has dominated the country — and the entire world, in general — over the last six months. In fact, given how much of an impact the virus has had, particularly among members of the medical community, Grey's executive producer Krista Vernoff doesn't see any way around tackling such an important subject matter.

"We’re going to address this pandemic for sure," Vernoff confirmed in a Television Academy panel titled "Quaranstreaming: Comfort TV That Keeps Us Going," which will become available to stream on Tuesday, July 21 at 8 p.m. ET on Emmys.com. "There’s no way to be a long-running medical show and not do the medical story of our lifetimes."

And considering the seriousness of the issue at hand, the cast and crew want to make sure the storylines feel as authentic as possible, which is why the Grey's writers are meeting with real-life doctors, who can their their own firsthand accounts of how they've dealt with the coronavirus outbreak and what healthcare professionals have had to go through during these trying times.

"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," Vernoff explained on the panel, which also included series stars Chandra Wilson (Miranda Bailey) and Kevin McKidd (Owen Hunt). "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."

And while Vernoff admitted that hearing about all the suffering and trauma doctors and patients have faced throughout the course of this pandemic has been "really painful," she also feels it's a necessary truth that viewers should face head-on. "I feel like our show has an opportunity and a responsibility to tell some of those stories," she added.

Production has yet to resume on Grey's Anatomy due to the on-going real-life pandemic, but that hasn't stopped the writers from working on the Season 17 scripts, which Vernoff hopes will "keep alive humor and romance while we tell these really painful stories."

Given this show's history, though, the upcoming season is sure to be an emotional and downright heartbreaking journey.