The most recent season of 'Grey's' ended four episodes early due to COVID-19.
"We’re going to address this pandemic for sure," she said during the "Quaranstreaming: Comfort TV That Keeps Us Going" panel, according to Entertainment Weekly. "There’s no way to be a long-running medical show and not do the medical story of our lifetimes."
Vernoff also said that real-life doctors meet with the writers each year, but shared that this year's conversations have been quite different.
"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."
"And that’s been one of our big conversations about Owen, is that he’s actually trained for this in a way that most of the other doctors aren’t," Vernoff added of Grey's character Owen Hunt, who's a veteran.
The "really painful" tales from the real-life doctors made Vernoff feel that Grey's "has an opportunity and a responsibility to tell some of those stories."
Despite the gravity that's sure to come with the COVID-19 storylines, Vernoff said, "Our conversations have been constantly about how do we keep alive humor and romance while we tell these really painful stories."
The "Quaranstreaming: Comfort TV That Keeps Us Going" panel, hosted by the Television Academy, will premiere in full on Tuesday, July 21 at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET on YouTube.