Ellen Pompeo is back on the set of Grey's Anatomy for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic shut down filming in March. Tuesday, the actress, who plays Dr. Meredith Grey, shared a behind-the-scenes photo from the upcoming 17th season of the ABC medical drama, posing alongside co-star Richard Flood, who plays Dr. Cormac Hayes.
Both actors are while wearing face masks as part of the on-set safety precautions, which have allowed the show to begin filming again after the pandemic forced the show to end Season 16 with four episodes to go. Pompeo dedicated the upcoming season to the healthcare workers who have died serving on the frontlines of the pandemic in a touching message.
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"First time back in my scrubs... since we shut down filming 7000 healthcare workers have died from Covid. I dedicate my season 17 to all who have fallen and to everyone of you who by the grace of God is still standing," she wrote. "This season is for you with humility and a bit of humor to get us through and endless amounts of gratitude. I hope we do you proud."
Executive producer Krista Vernoff previously revealed that the show would tackle the coronavirus pandemic in the new season. "We're going to address this pandemic for sure," she said during an interview with the Television Academy in July. "There's no way to be a long-running medical show and not do the medical story of our lifetimes." She added that the show's writers have already been meeting and consulting with doctors about the pandemic, which has given Grey's a whole new perspective on what it means to be a healthcare worker during this unprecedented time.
"It has felt more like therapy," she continued. "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." Vernoff explained she feels like Grey's has an "opportunity and a responsibility" to tell their stories while also keeping the show entertaining for viewers: "Our conversations have been constantly about how do we keep alive humor and romance while we tell these really painful stories."