"Grey's Anatomy" will "for sure" tackle the COVID-19 pandemic when it returns for season 17, according to showrunner Krista Vernoff.
Vernoff revealed this fact during the Television Academy's "Quaranstreaming: Comfort TV That Keeps Us Going" panel Tuesday, saying "there's no way to be a long-running medical show and not do the medical story of our lifetimes."
While joined by series stars Chandra Wilson and Kevin McKidd for the event, hosted by Entertainment Weekly, Vernoff explained more about the writing process in regards to how they will tackle such a monumental moment.
"Every year we have doctors come and tell us their stories, and usually they're telling their funniest or craziest stories," Vernoff, one of the show's executive producers, noted.
That all changed this time around, as Vernoff described the experiences as feeling "more like therapy" sessions, with doctors "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."
"I feel like our show has an opportunity and a responsibility to tell some of those stories," Vernoff added. "Our conversations have been constantly about how do we keep alive humor and romance while we tell these really painful stories."
Vernoff also hinted that Dr. Owen Hunt (McKidd) may play a pivotal role in this storyline as he, being an Army trauma surgeon, is "actually trained for this in a way that most of the other doctors aren't."
Production on "Grey's Anatomy" season 16 shut down in mid-March due to the novel coronavirus, resulting in the season ending early, while production on season 17 has yet to begin.
Watch the full event tonight at 8 p.m. ET here: