Production supervisor Jennifer De la Rosa spent Season 17 of “Grey’s Anatomy” helping keep cast and crew safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. With “Grey’s” one of the earliest shows back in production, De la Rosa calls the team’s efforts a bit like building a plane while flying as they brainstormed and implemented safety protocols.
The production had to determine not just how often to test, but which tests to use and how often to clean the stages. De la Rosa began researching air filters, learning which were best, and then worked to ensure those were the ones installed.
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Writers included more exteriors during the season and production built outside when possible, as opposed to inside on soundstages. A favored location was a private beach in Palos Verdes.
The writers also included a continuing storyline about a safety device — a powered air-purifying respirator — that actors wore on-screen. (All who wore one were required to pass a pulmonary test and go through a training process on the device.) Since the PAPR uses an internal AC system that hums, extensive sound tests were required to get everything right.
De la Rosa, who has worked on “Station 19” and “The Catch,” credits Shondaland senior director of production Val Cheung and head of production Sara Fischer for their support. She says that sometimes just having permission to add their names to the cc line of an email produced results. On hiatus now, “Grey’s Anatomy” is planning for a mid-July return to production amid a pandemic that is lessening in severity but is by no means over — which means making decisions about health and safety teams and other protocols must begin again soon.