Conan Gray’s ‘Kid Krow’ Receives Praise From Taylor Swift

If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably been playing Conan Gray‘s “Wish You Were Sober” on repeat. The track is from the 21-year-old singer-songwriter’s debut album Kid Krow, which came out last Friday (April 3). And despite the album only being out for a few days, it’s already received a ton of praise — even from Taylor Swift.

“[Swift] just recently, literally four days ago, put my song ‘Wish You Were Sober’ on her Instagram Story,” Gray told Zane Lowe during an interview for Apple Music today (April 7). “I literally lost my mind. She DM’d me afterwards. She was so, so sweet. She told me that my album was perfect, which I was like, ‘Taylor, that’s all you need to say. I can die now.'”

Only Swifties can truly understand the excitement one feels when the pop star personally reaches out online, and now Gray has experienced that magic for himself. “She never said anything to me,” he said. “It just happened. I logged into my phone, and it was just everywhere. I was freaked. I hadn’t reached out to her at all. She just popped in and just said, ‘Hi,’ and told me that my album was great.”

Naturally, the “Maniac” singer immediately put his fingers to work, responding to Swift with a lengthy message that he hoped would help her understand a sliver of his admiration for her and her music. “I weirdly, I wrote a paragraph so fucking fast,” he said. “I wrote it so fast because there’s so many things that I’d wanted to say to Taylor Swift my whole entire life. She raised me.”

“She’s just incredible,” Gray continued before adding that he really didn’t know the right thing to say to the “Lover” songstress when she congratulated him on Kid Krow. “What do you even say to Taylor Swift after she just tells you that your album is good?” he said. “I don’t know. You just say, ‘Thanks. You’re literally perfect.'”

Swift’s words, of course, meant so much to Gray, who said that the first YouTube video he ever watched was one of the pop icon’s music videos. “She’s my number one,” Gray said, solidifying his stance as a staunch Swiftie. “She’s my number one above all.”

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‘The New Us’: Will Mackenzie And Josh’s Fresh Start Last On Teen Mom OG?

Mackenzie went from declaring, “I hate that I married him” and filing for divorce from Josh to once again being engaged to her longtime sweetheart.

During tonight’s Teen Mom OG episode, Josh — who confessed that he was “inappropriate with things” while out of town at a bar — surprised his longtime love with a bunch of special birthday surprises in the form of a scavenger hunt.

At the end of the “journey” — which included notes along with cupcakes, a bible, lunch and a massage — was a message telling Mack to throw her first ring “as far as you can in the water.” The catch: This was at the location of where he proposed several years back.

Even though Mackenzie’s producer Kristen told her not to do it “if it’s a real diamond,” the mother of three did as her beau instructed her to do because she was “starting fresh.”

From there, she followed rose petals to Josh, who was standing with a single red rose.

“I love you,” he sweetly told her as they embraced.

He then got on bended knee with a brand-new ring and stated, “I want this to be the new us. Start fresh, start new. Will you marry me?”

Mack accepted with a sweet “mhhmmm,” and they shared a heartwarming embrace.

But will the duo’s union last — and will they make it down the aisle a second time? Tell us your thoughts, then catch another Teen Mom OG Tuesday at 8/7c.

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How Coronavirus Affected Wisconsin’s Presidential Primary Election

Voters in Wisconsin cast their ballots for the presidential primary on Tuesday (April 7) — but not without having to navigate a prohibitive combination of hours-long lines, drastically reduced numbers of polling places, and a need for masks and other protective gear to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus. In short, this is what in-person voting looks like during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Election day almost didn’t happen at all, up until the very last minute: On Monday (April 6), the state’s governor, Tony Evers, used the powers of executive order to suspend in-person voting, but that call was later overruled by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The Federal Supreme Court also shot down an effort to extend absentee ballot options for voters who might be rightfully fearful of showing up to the polls in the middle of a pandemic — now, any mail-in ballots in the state must be postmarked by April 7 in order to be counted. (Democrats had petitioned to extend the deadline so that ballots would have to be received by April 13, but Republicans asked for the more stringent timeline.)

Plenty of officials voiced their dismay at the decision to carry on with the primary election as normal, especially given that photos and videos of lines and personal precautions showed a reality that was anything but. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) said he was “appalled that the U.S. and Wisconsin Supreme Courts refused to allow any modification in the interest of public health and democracy alike,” while Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor, Mandela Barnes, called the entire production a “shit show.”

Even so, hundreds of Wisconsinites showed up to perform their civic duty, and they did so while attempting to maintain the CDC’s recommended 6 to 10 feet apart from one another in the hours-long lines. Because of the state-mandated stay-at-home order, many polling places couldn’t open at all; per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Governor Evers called in the National Guard to staff some locations. Even so, there were 5 polling places open to the city of almost 600,000 people — typically, 180 polling places are available to Milwaukee’s residents.

The New York Times noted that there were fewer lines in other cities, which is alarming on several levels. Almost two-thirds of the state’s Black residents live in Milwaukee county, and the median age for the Black community is relatively young: 28 to the state’s average 38.

“Our kids are voting in Milwaukee and they’re definitely waiting longer than we did,” Bruce Campbell, a resident of nearby Brookfield, told the Times. “You can feel the blue county, red county dynamics. It’s difficult to watch.”

Per Vox, 1.2 million people in the state had requested absentee ballots this year, which is almost five times as many as the state usually handles in primary elections, and roughly one-fifth of the total population.

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Oliver Tree Takes Us For One Last Pinked-Out Ride In Wild ‘Let Me Down’ Video

It’s a sad, sad day when Oliver Tree, one of pop’s wildest new faces, claims that his new song, “Let Me Down,” is his last one ever. But it comes with an off the wall video that you can’t help but smile at, depicting a behind-the-scenes shoot for perhaps the worst music video of all time. Tree’s charm is the star here and lets us know that, if he’s serious about leaving, he will be sorely missed.

Tree rides into a pink room on a scooter for his video shoot and kicks things off by eating a sandwich loudly in to a nearby microphone. After tossing it out of view, he sings the roaring song rather plainly into a swinging microphone. If “bored” had a Tinder profile picture, it’d be a snapshot from this video.

Of course, with Tree, things are never this simple. He begins singing into his own microphone that he pulls out of his pocket, and then he has someone wearing a skin-tight pink bodysuit bring him an adorable baby doll. Tree punts it like a football and then causes a massive storm on set, hijacking a pink umbrella to protect him from the rain. Inexplicably, he turns around and jumps onto the floor and lays there without moving. As the camera zooms out, we see a crew of pink bodysuit-wearing video directors ending the shoot.

Last month, Tree announced that due to the global coronavirus pandemic, he wouldn’t be releasing his debut studio album, Ugly is Beautiful, “anytime in the foreseeable future.” After suggesting that it could come out in another five to 10 years, he also said that all of his remaining shows have been canceled and refunded and that he has officially retired.

“Thank you for being a part of this epic journey, this year of my life was, by far, the most challenging but also the most rewarding,” he wrote. “I’m not good at goodbyes but please know that I love you all!”

Take a look at Tree’s final(?) video for “Let Me Down” up above.

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‘Learn Korean With BTS’ Helps Curious K-pop Fans Find Connection

When Laura Krupp started learning the Korean alphabet, or Hangul, she’d practice memorizing the characters by doodling the names of her favorite K-pop idols in the margins of her notebook. “정국,” she’d scribble on the page, burning the distinct vowels and consonants of BTS member Jung Kook’s name into memory. Amid a busy college semester, it took the geology major a month to master all 24 letters. “I probably could have learned it in a week if I had had more time,” she tells MTV News over a video call from her bedroom in Michigan.

Three years later, the 21-year-old can read Korean phonetically and knows the basics: how to introduce herself; how to count to 10; and how to read and pronounce the go-to Instagram hashtag of her ultimate bias, as favored idols are known in the K-pop fandom, Lee Know. (The hashtag “#리노는기여어,” which roughly translates to “#LeeKnowIsCute,” connects her to thousands of posts from fans around the world who use it too.) She admits that the process has been slow. Juggling a full course load with teaching herself Korean grammar hasn’t been easy, but she revels in the small victories. “I’ve left a couple of comments in Korean on Lee Know’s Instagram posts,” she says, his poster one of many crowding the bedroom wall behind her. And when she met Stray Kids earlier this year at a fan engagement on their District 9: Unlock tour, she was able to tell youngest member I.N, “행복하세요,” or, “I wish you happiness.”

“I was going to tell Seungmin that I liked his voice [in Korean], but he smiled at me and my brain short-circuited,” she says. “So I didn’t get to say that.”

While understanding Korean isn’t a requirement to take part in K-pop standom, it can enrich the experience. In K-pop, content is king. A group can produce hundreds of hours of interviews, livestreams, performances, digital programming, and more during a single promotional cycle. Depending on the company’s internal resources, as well as the size of the unit’s global following, subtitles and translations can take days to weeks to months to be added, if at all.

And international fans know just how agonizing waiting for subtitles can be. 20-year-old fan Nico, from Ohio, became so frustrated by the lack of translated content available for one of her favorite girl groups, Weki Meki, that she took matters into her own hands. “Smaller girl groups don’t get any [English] translations because there’s not a big demand for them,” she says. “So I pledged to myself that I would learn Korean so that I could help international fans of these girl groups have translations for social media posts and V Lives.” She’s still working toward that goal (“I’m so close!” she says), but she did join a Weki Meki fan account to help organize global streaming parties.

For most, the desire to learn Korean stems from something as simple as wanting to connect with idols on a deeper level. 22-year-old media studies student Lissete Vega started learning Korean in 2015 because she wanted to sing along with her favorite SHINee songs. “I wanted to better understand them through their language and also through their culture,” she says. Now, she meets with a private tutor once or twice a week and she’s able to understand “most of what BTS tweets without having to wait for translating accounts to do it, which is an awesome feeling.” She says, “Just being able to connect with them without having to rely so much on outside resources like subtitles or translations has been really beneficial.”

It’s a sentiment a lot of K-pop fans share. After all, there are nuances that don’t always translate well. While music often transcends language, jokes may not. “Namjoon’s dad jokes are really hard to get if you don’t speak Korean, but once you do, they’re so stupidly funny,” 20-year-old Hannah Smith says. The New York University student and multifandom K-pop enthusiast has been teaching herself Korean for years via free online resources; she plans to take Korean as her foreign language elective. “It’s an academic way of consuming my entertainment,” she adds.

It’s also a facet of being part of an increasingly globalized fandom. “Now, practically every fan I meet at least knows how to read Hangul,” Vega says.

But K-pop superfans aren’t the only people interested in learning the language. A 2018 report from the Modern Language Association showed an increase in Korean class enrollments across college campuses in the United States by 13.7 percent between 2013 and 2016, while the overall number of language registrations decreased. But even as universities across the country cut foreign language departments altogether, the general rise in popularity of Korean sees many people, like Krupp, teaching themselves. Free resources like Talk To Me In Korean, How To Study Korean, Duolingo, and YouTube make the learning process more accessible to millions of eager students. Roughly 3.3 million people practice their Korean on Duolingo, making it the sixth-most popular course among English learners on the language-learning app after it was added to the platform in late 2017. Meanwhile, three times a week YouTuber Korean Unnie teaches everything from must-know words and phrases (in both formal and informal speech) to grammar to cultural nuances on her popular channel.

And now, global superstars BTS have joined the mix: Just as Friends helped BTS leader RM learn English, BTS want to help their fans learn Korean.

Two weeks ago, Big Hit Entertainment launched “Learn Korean With BTS,” a new online program that integrates language-learning into pre-existing BTS videos. Over the course of 30 free, short-form episodes uploaded weekly to their official fansite on WeVerse, the initiative aims to make learning Korean “easy and fun for global fans who have difficulty enjoying BTS’s music and contents due to the language barrier,” according to a statement from the company.

“It’s a very nice way to bring together this massive fandom who are very much interested in learning,” says Monica Yadav, a culture writer and K-pop enthusiast based in Mumbai, India. She started teaching herself Korean through YouTube and webtoons to better understand the depth of BTS’s lyricism, which is largely rooted in literature and philosophy. “Those seven boys have so much power to influence so many people.”

For Jesse*, a 27-year-old Asian-American publicist from San Francisco, California, the fact that they’re using their power “to do something positive makes me feel even better about my choice to be a fan.” But it also signifies what makes the industry so unique. “The way that K-pop actively invites its fans to be a part of the whole experience isn’t really paralleled in Western music,” she says. “It’s a participatory experience. There’s so much to do, and so much they ask you to do, that learning the language has helped me feel more involved as a fan.”

Courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment

Devised by Professor Heo Yong of Hankuk University and researchers at the Korea Language Contents Institute, the curriculum five episodes in has covered pronunciation of consonants, introductions, numbers, and key phrases like “thank you” and “how have you been?” — all while using memorable clips from the group’s numerous variety programs and broadcasts as teaching aids. Reading “안녕하세요” is an accomplishment, but hearing singer Jimin cutely say “annyonghaseyo” gives learners a better grasp on the language entirely. This is especially important for beginners.

“It’s important to learn pronunciation and annunciation properly if you’re starting to learn Korean,” Eun Oh, a manager and teacher at Korean Culture Center of New York, says. “From a linguistic perspective, pronunciation is the foundation of communication.” Oh encourages her students to avidly consume all types of Korean media, from dramas to music to Korean variety shows, to not only improve listening comprehension but to also familiarize themselves with how Koreans speak.

“I do like hearing Korean spoken naturally,” 26-year-old fan Lindsey Bosak says. “I feel like it’s a good way to figure out what I’m saying incorrectly.” Bosak first started teaching herself Korean three years ago with the hope of one day being able to multitask while watching Korean dramas. (“I wanted to be able to do things while watching TV, like clean,” she suggests.) But it wasn’t until discovering BTS that she got serious about her studies, purchasing textbooks and practicing on apps throughout the day. “I started reading lyric translations, and I fell in love with the way that they write and the topics they talk about,” she explains. “I wanted to be able to understand that on my own and not have to follow along with lyric sheets.”

Bosak turned to BTS content to brush up on her skills, like Bangtan Bombs on YouTube and episodes of Run! BTS and Bon Voyage, which are available on V Live and WeVerse. “It’s always a little exciting when I recognize a word without looking at the subtitles,” she says. “I do try and test myself. When I learn new words, I like to watch [variety program] Run! BTS to see if I know anything. I really like hearing native speakers. It helps with pronunciation.”

This is what Jon Hills, director of New York-based language center Hills Learning, refers to as “authentic material.” Basically, it’s something that has been written or spoken by a native speaker for a native speaker. “In the language-learning world, there are textbooks and a variety of tools that are written by Korean speakers for English speakers,” Hills says. “But there’s been a move to try and integrate more authentic materials. A song or a piece of content from BTS is technically an authentic material. So what they’re trying to do makes sense. You’re learning Korean from an authentic source.”

Still, a device like “Learn Korean With BTS” is best used as a supplement. “It’s not a beginner course,” Bosak says after binging the first three episodes. “They do expect you to have a basic understanding of the Korean alphabet. I had to watch them a few times because they go so quickly. There’s not a lot of time to stop and digest what they’re saying. But I like the fact that they’re using old content. BTS has been such a big part of my life the last few years that I think this is a way for me to stick with it. It’s an incentive.”

A sample of ‘Learn Korean With BTS’ on WeVerse / Courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment

And motivation is the key to learning any language. And part of that incentive, Hills says, is “having external stimulants that you can watch and engage with.” But no matter how someone was introduced to the culture, be it through K-pop or Bong Joon Ho films, learning Korean is ultimately a long-term goal. “I really respect K-pop fans’ curiosity and love for the language,” Oh says. “But I would love to see that it goes beyond K-pop. BTS is opening a new door for [fans] to be introduced to a new world, just like how language has opened so many doors for me — to talk to people, to interact with people, to understand people.”

“There’s a whole other world out there,” Hills says. “There are a lot of perspectives out there that are not just Western.”

In their initial press announcement, Big Hit said that through learning Korean with BTS the company hopes “global fans will be able to deeply empathize” with the music of their artists. But, in the process, they’re helping fans empathize with one another. “I’ve had full conversations with other fans [online] where they’re speaking in Korean, and I respond in English, and they respond in Korean,” Smith says. “Because they understand English but can’t write it, and I understand Korean but can’t write it. So we communicate that way.”

“It breaks down the barriers between Korean and international fans,” Ciara adds. The 24-year-old activist from Dublin, Ireland, started learning the language after gradually picking up words after hours-long marathons of BTS content. Though it’s only been seven months since she began teaching herself Korean, she’s already experienced the joy of understanding something before it’s been subtitled. And she’s excited to start “Learn Korean With BTS.”

A BTS fan holds a sign that reads “Jeon Jung Kook” in Hangul in Central Park / Getty Images

“They understand that this is something their fans are passionate about,” she says. “Especially with a lot of the fandom devalued or being belittled — a lot of that rooted in misogyny. It’s a testament to fans caring about what these artists are saying and not just what people assume fans care about.”

And with a better understanding of the world comes a better understanding of yourself and how you fit into it. “It’s made it feel like a smaller world, especially in this time where there’s so much going on that’s negative,” Bosak says. “It’s really nice to have something to connect with people over. And I’m meeting people that I probably never would have met had I not started learning Korean.”

Back in her bedroom in Michigan, Krupp sums it up perfectly: “It’s boring being monolingual, honestly.”

*Last name withheld for privacy

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Coronavirus Fears: Doctors, Nurses, And Medical Students Have Them, Too

By De Elizabeth

Tiana Woolridge was only 6 or 7 years old when she knew she wanted to be a doctor. Two decades later, she is finishing up her fourth year at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. When she enters the medical field as a pediatrician in a few months, she’ll be doing so in the midst of a pandemic.

Like many other students currently navigating academics amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Woolridge is completing her final year of medical school via online courses, with no IRL commencement ceremony on the horizon. “Any graduation is huge,” she tells MTV News. “But medical school graduation is so big. For a lot of people, this has been a goal for their entire lives.”

Despite grieving a chapter of her life that looks a lot different than she once imagined it, Woolridge is feeling resolved. While she is not graduating early and immediately entering the medical force like some of her peers, the 27-year-old is ready to do her part. “We went into medicine because we want to help people,” she says. “We want to prevent suffering. We want to help explain the confusing, scary, and anxiety-provoking things, and be a sense of comfort for people in an uncertain time.”

On The Frontlines… Without The Tools They Need

As the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. continues to increase, so does the strain on the healthcare industry. Hospitals are becoming overloaded due to the spreading outbreak, with a dire need for more personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to keep medical professionals safe — and all of this is projected to get worse. According to data from University of Washington Medicine’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, as of March 30, the U.S. is predicted to need 220,643 hospital beds, which would create a shortage of 54,046 beds, and experts believe that the country’s healthcare providers will need more than 26,000 new ventilators to save lives.

And it’s not just equipment: there’s an acute need for more healthcare workers in general. To keep up with the growing demand, some healthcare professionals are finding themselves reassigned to treat COVID-19 patients, regardless of their area of expertise.

That’s exactly what happened to Billie*, a registered nurse working in a neurology unit at a South Carolina hospital. Prior to the outbreak, the 31-year-old took care of patients who were dealing with side effects of a stroke, cardiac illness, or neurological disorders. But all of that changed in March, when her entire floor became dedicated to treating people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 — a task that soon became more challenging when she realized that her hospital was not properly equipped with protective gear, and that nurses were being given contradictory information about which type of masks were needed.

At one point, Billie and her fellow nurses were reusing N95 masks, and cleaning them between shifts, when ideally, such masks are only meant for one-time usage. “But now, [hospital officials] are telling us, ‘You only need to use surgical face masks,’” she says, noting that surgical masks are not as effective against respiratory droplets or airborne particles — both of which are possible ways that COVID-19 could be transmitted. “We’re having to go into different patient’s rooms. Let’s say one patient is coronavirus positive, and the other one is negative. You’re going to both rooms with the same face mask on — and you’ll be wearing the same face mask for four hours. Before all this happened, you could be fired for wearing the wrong protective equipment to a patient’s room.”

In addition to the possibility of physical consequences, the lack of protection is beginning to take a mental and emotional toll for Billie. “I don’t have a history of anxiety, but there’s a little bit of chest pain towards the end of the shift,” she says. “In that moment where you’re seeing patients whom you know are COVID-positive, and they’re coughing and breathing in the room, you wonder: ‘Oh my gosh, am I getting the disease? Am I having trouble breathing, or is that just anxiety?’”

Their Own Lives Are At Risk, Every Day

Even with proper protective gear, medical professionals are still concerned about contracting COVID-19, as over 100 doctors and nurses around the world have already died from the novel coronavirus. Luis Seija, a first-year resident at Mount Sinai Hospital practicing internal medicine and pediatrics, began working with coronavirus patients in mid-March — around the time that New York City began to see an influx in cases. He tells MTV News that N95 masks were soon in high demand at the hospital, so he started making attempts to supply his own. “I have three key hooks right next to my front door,” he says of his New York apartment. “Two of them have keys, and one of them has an N95 mask.”

Seija took a two-week hiatus from working to self-isolate, and is using that time to advocate for his colleagues on the front lines. “I’m doing a lot of outreach and a lot of different projects to make sure that we have enough of what we need,” the 28-year-old says. But as the date of his return to work approaches, his concerns are increasing. He says he wasn’t worried about contracting COVID-19 before he left for his hiatus, but says his ritual deep breath before entering the hospital doors has been getting longer and longer each day since March. “I am scared to go back.”

Chika Lota, a nurse practitioner in Chicago, shares similar concerns. She describes her facility as the “first stop” for patients who think they might have COVID-19; from there, some might be sent home to self-isolate, and others are directed to the emergency room for further interventions if needed. “We do our part with hand hygiene and following the guidelines for putting our masks on properly,” Lota says of her team’s PPE protocol. “But at the end of the day, I have patients coughing in my face when I’m taking a sample. You just never know. So I do worry.”

But Lota worries even more about the many healthcare professionals across the country who are less protected than she is. “It’s really frustrating to hear about people who are doing a service and they’re passing away because they may not have adequate equipment. That breaks my heart.” She adds that some of her patients have expressed similar concerns.

“I had a patient the other day who broke down in tears,” Lota recalls. “She was afraid to even come in, because she didn’t want to impact us. I don’t think patients should worry about that on top of being sick.”

Despite their fears, both Lota and Seija are committed to doing everything they can to help fight the pandemic. “There’s an inherent advocacy that comes with being a physician and this situation has really brought that out,” Seija explains.

But some healthcare workers also feel that the myriad issues being exposed by the current crisis are more than what they signed up for. “It’s really disgusting, honestly,” Billie says of the preparatory failures that led to such a widespread crisis. She adds that nurses at her hospital are disproportionately under-equipped compared to doctors, despite having just as much, if not more interaction with the patients. “We feel like we’re commodities, not actual human beings at this moment.”

From left: Jamie Ho, Joanna Watterson, Luis Seija. All photos courtesy

The Next In Line Are Also Afraid… 

With all the headlines about under-equipped hospital staff, many medical students are feeling fearful as they get ready to enter the workforce. Jamie Ho, a sixth-year medical student at the University of Cambridge in the U.K., tells MTV News that she “feels like a soldier going into battle.” The 23-year-old intends to practice cardiology or neurology, and she feels nervous about possibly joining the frontlines of the pandemic, especially when PPE is not a guarantee.

“Healthcare workers should be adequately protected and supported by the management team and government,” she says. “They should have enough PPE, and the focus of guidelines should be towards optimum protection rather than resource management. Infection of healthcare workers would deplete the workforce and is a risk for transmission to vulnerable patients and other colleagues.”

Joanna Watterson, a third-year medical student at New York University studying to practice emergency medicine, feels similarly. “I’m afraid for my country and my city and all its people,” she tells MTV News. “I’m saddened about the lives that we will lose, and frustrated that some of those could have been prevented if we had been more prepared. I worry about the fallout from this trauma that healthcare workers are all experiencing right now. … We see death as medical students, but not like this. Not to this scale. It’s tragic.”

Because Watterson isn’t slated to graduate until next year, she isn’t able to volunteer to enter the workforce early, like many of her fourth-year classmates. But if she could, she would. “Ultimately most of us went to medical school to help people,” she says. “It’s hard to watch this all happen, to know we have some skills and knowledge, and be totally unable to help.”

… And They’re Coming Together In Powerful Ways

In response to not being on the frontlines themselves, med students have volunteered to help healthcare workers with daily tasks in order to take some of the burden off of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. Raven Batshon, a fourth-year medical student at Detroit’s Wayne State University, has felt empowered by seeing the medical student community supporting healthcare workers in whatever ways they can. “We’re not allowed in the hospital right now because there’s not enough protective gear,” Batshon, who plans to practice family medicine, says. “So we’ve found other ways to get involved, whether it’s through phone triage or babysitting for some of the physicians, dropping off groceries, walking dogs, creating PPE — the list goes on and on. It’s been really beautiful to see everyone come together and find creative ways to support the community that we’ve been trying to serve for the last four years.”

Even so, this is still a frightening time for everyone — the general public, students, and healthcare workers alike. Woolridge notes that the pandemic has been a lesson in handling uncertainty, especially given that there are so many unknowns: What will happen? How will this affect me? Will I get sick? Will my loved ones get sick? Woolridge says she’s been coping with her own anxiety by practicing mindfulness meditation, journaling, and turning to her faith.

“There’s been a lot of emotions,” Woolridge says. “A lot of fear, frustration, anger — all of those things. And the best way to combat a lot of that is just by kind of focusing on the present moment and just taking one step at a time, one day at a time, rather than trying to plan out exactly what’s happening in the future.”

For Batshon, a sense of optimism and belief in the goodness of others is seeing her through the uncertainty and the darkness. “This will pass,” she emphasizes. “We’re going to be a different world on the other side of it. But we’re all going to be in it together. If we continue to have this love and support that people are showing over and over, we’ll be able to overcome whatever lies on the other side.”

*Name has been changed out of a request for privacy.

You can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Not everyone has the option to stay at home, but if you can, you should! Social distancing is the new normal, and we’re here to help.

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The Jonas Brothers Sent Make-a-Wish Kids Sweet Videos

The Jonas Brothers may not be able to visit the very special children they plan to meet via the Make-a-Wish Foundation right now, so they sent the next best thing: videos.

The celebrities spent some time recording heartfelt messages to be sent to the organization’s young recipients in lieu of physical visits due to the current social-distancing guidelines in place. The pop stars cannot take any chances with potentially spreading the novel coronavirus, and thus have had to send their love digitally for the time being. Celebrities like Ryan Reynolds also took the opportunity to send video messages to the children waiting to meet him as well.

“We know a lot of these wishes have been canceled with everything that has been going on, but we just hope you know that you are loved and we think you guys are the greatest,” Kevin said in one of the pre-recorded messages.

“I know these are tough times, confusing times, but I think the thing that’s helping me through it — and maybe this will help all of you — is I’ve been spending some time just writing,” Nick shared. “It could be in a journal, it could be a short story or a poem or a song. Whatever brings you happiness, that’s the thing to focus on right now.” It’s advice that all of us can certainly follow.

“I hope this video brings you some joy like all the Make-a-Wish kids bring me and my brothers so much joy when we get to meet you,” Joe told the children in his recording, all shared in a medley on the official Make-a-Wish Foundation Instagram page in an effort to encourage others to spread hope during these difficult times.

“Keep up everything you’re doing. You’re the strongest in the world,” said Kevin.

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Lady Gaga Is A Caged Cyborg Nightmare On Her Chromatica Cover

Although Lady Gaga‘s new album Chromatica has been postponed, the singer has given everyone a taste of what to expect with its bold new cover art. Part Mad Max, Mortal Kombat, and cyber-punk fantasy, it’s just the explosive creative touch that certifies that whenever the LP comes out, it’ll torch streaming services with a terrifying mechanical laser beam.

Gaga’s Chromatica cover takes quarantining to a new level: She’s welded to one spot forever. With monstrous black talons and prickly boots that could slay dragons with one cartwheel into their appendixes (assuming that dragons have appendixes), she appears to be trapped for the good of the world outside of wherever she is. The fierce look on her face lets you know that if she slips out of this trap, she’ll make whoever put her there pay dearly.

The nightmarish cyborg aesthetic of Gaga’s cover art looks similar to how she appeared on her Paper magazine cover that dropped in March. In that cover story, she revealed that Chromatica will be a record “that forces people to rejoice even in their saddest moments.” Additionally, she relayed that Chromatica is like a place in her heart. “I might sound silly, but I’m on it right now — I’m not on another planet. If you see and listen to Chromatica, and you want to live there too, you’re invited.”

When Gaga announced that Chromatica was postponed, she explained on Twitter that it’s bigger than just wanting another release date. “This is such a hectic and scary time for all of us, and while I believe art is one of the strongest things we have to provide joy and healing to each other during times like this, it just doesn’t feel right to me to release this album with all that is going on during this global pandemic,” she wrote. Also, she hoped that fans were “staying safe” and practicing social distancing.

So we’ll have to wait a bit longer to hear “Stupid Love“‘s companion tunes, but that’s OK. At least we have this haunting, futuristic cover to let us know what the fashion is like on planet Chromatica. 

Take a look at Gaga’s new album cover up above.

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Coronavirus Outbreak Leads To Virtual Activism

When many people think about activism, they’re likely envisioning its most visible component: People emerging from the comfort of their homes to physically gather together and make their voices heard.

Those protests and rallies have established themselves as indelible moments in history on their own: the Million Man March, the Stonewall Riot, the Women’s March on Washington. But with COVID-19 spreading across the world at dangerous rates, entire countries are being encouraged to stay inside. As a result, activists have shifted their techniques so that they can still bring productive change for LGBTQ+ rights, the climate crisis, and online privacy in a time when going outside in large groups of people is frowned upon at best and deadly at worst.

“The work that I do and that so many other people do in the movement is about bringing people together,” Katie Eder, the executive director of the Future Coalition, a youth-led climate crisis organization, told MTV News. “My personal theory of change is that by coming together, by uniting, by reaching across differences and collaborating, that’s how we can create real change. But we can’t physically convene people [right now]. It’s very difficult and provides barriers that you truly never could have imagined.”

The staff of the Future Coalition has always worked remotely, but they as much as anyone else know the power of coming together. In 2019, they helped lead record-breaking protest movements to draw attention to the modern climate crisis. They were planning another strike on Earth Day this year, for which they expected to see “millions of people out on the streets” on April 22. Now, that entire strike is going to be virtual, and the group is being forced to “reimagine what a social movement can look like in the digital age.”

To pull that off, the team is looking to the activists who laid the groundwork for their current movement — which is exactly how they put in the work before social distancing became the new standard. “We look at the civil rights movement, the LGBTQ+ revolution, [and] other large social shifts that have happened in this country as historical context and inspiration for the work that we do now,” Eder explained. “Our movements actually end up looking very, very similar to what they looked like many decades ago, even though the times have changed so much. And I think one of the reasons is because social movements haven’t yet figured out how we can utilize text and digital tools to the fullest extent to bring that change.”

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, is also transitioning their activism, which is rooted in over 40 years of on-the-ground work, as well as hundreds of staff and volunteers whose skills now have to pivot for the digital age.

“Traditionally, the [HRC] has worked with campaign organizers in various states to engage with voters and prospective voters on the election,” Alphonso David, the president of the HRC, told MTV News. “That means everything from phone banking, to knocking on doors, to working directly with prospective candidates or actual candidates for office and helping them in their operations, making sure that they’re successful. A lot of that work involved [door-to-door] or hand-to-hand contact”

So the HRC started creating new tools for their hundreds of volunteers to continue to push for change while social distancing. They’ve created an advocacy app called TEAM, which helps volunteers directly engage their own personal contacts via text, email, and social media to mobilize them to vote. “In short, text messages, Facebook messenger, and Instagram and Twitter direct messages are the new door knocks,” HRC said in a press release about the app. The organization also created weekly Tuesday Textbanks outreach events with their Swing State Squad, in which HRC staff and volunteers call voters in swing states like Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The nonprofit also offers virtual training to ensure activists are still doing the work while they’re socially distancing, and they’ve created resources to transition in-person volunteer opportunities to virtual or remote events.

“This crisis is going to have an impact on how people interact with each other, not only for purposes of political organizing and the elections, but generally,” David said. “And so we are pivoting to make sure that we do have the capacity, we do have the technological support, and we’ve done the training. We are staffing our volunteers so that we can maximize impact in November.”

But there are some activists who have always done their work remotely: Fight for the Future is one of the most online organizations out there. Not only do their entire staff and volunteer force work on the internet, but their nonprofit has worked to advocate for digital rights and internet privacy since 2011.

“In a weird way, not a lot has changed in terms of our day to day work,” Deputy Director Evan Greer told MTV News, adding that Fight for the Future’s global team “already are used to communicating and meeting largely online.”

As a result, their shift has been more in the focus of Fight for the Future’s activism than in how its teams create that work. “The issue area that we work in of protecting people’s basic rights in the digital age and ensuring that technology is used as a force for good rather than a force for greed and charity has always been important,” Greer said. “But it just became exponentially more important” with more and more people logging on. Since the coronavirus outbreak, the numbers of people using the internet in their day-to-day lives continue to increase: They’re working on the internet, conducting video calls, watching press conferences, and playing video games to let off steam and pass the time.

“This moment just clearly shows how essential access to a free and open internet is, where people can get access to real and good information, and where people can debate and discuss ideas and measures that we should be taking to address this crisis.”

That messaging shift is one that the Future Coalition has had to consider, too. “We talk about climate change as the biggest existential threat that is facing humanity,” Eder said. “But because of COVID-19, that arguably isn’t true. Right now, the largest threat facing humanity and our safety and wellbeing is COVID-19.”

As these activists and organizations pivot their fight to virtual activism, they’re learning tips and tricks of the trade. For HRC, that means more targeted activism and encouraging volunteers to reach out to their friends and family directly.

“We have an obligation to make sure that we are protecting all disadvantaged and marginalized groups,” David said. “And one of the keys to doing that is shifting to digital organizing to make sure that we can get the word out, we can get the messages out, and we can keep people engaged.”

Greer agreed, adding: “Just because you can’t gather people in person does not mean that you can’t organize. And does not mean that you can’t put real, direct pressure on your target.” She recommends organizing online protests, call-in days, petition efforts, and live streams instead of rallies.

“There’s so many ways that we can still gather and exert collective power and exert collective demands on powerful people and institutions without having to meet up in person,” Greer said. “It’s not like we have to reinvent the wheel.”

You can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Not everyone has the option to stay at home, but if you can, you should! Social distancing is the new normal, and we’re here to help.

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Now You Can Get Ready In The Morning With Anderson .Paak And Justin Timberlake

Anderson .Paak and Justin Timberlake have released a new video for their absurdly feel-good track, “Don’t Slack,” that’ll appear in the forthcoming Trolls World Tour movie and on its soundtrack. Anna Kendrick appears in the visual and gets happily haunted by the two cheery imaginary guys, eventually making her be just as excited for the day as they are. If you’re watching this from your bed, you’ll want to get up.

Kendrick wakes up and gets a couple of texts before getting her dental floss out. Ugh. It’s time to get started with a long and boring day. That’s before it turns into a great one when .Paak pops up in her flower to carol “Don’t Slack” to her with a bouquet of fresh flowers to turn her frown upside down. When she gets startled at .Paak’s performance, she wanders outside and sees Timberlake singing to her as his legs dance faster than the speed of light. Clearly, she’s tripping out.

She heads to the kitchen to get something to drink and when she opens the fridge, she sees .Paak inside singing who then hands her a fresh, lemon-squeezed cup of juice. When she turns around, she sees Timberlake sitting in a comfy set of pajamas, trying to get her attention.

Leaving the kitchen, she wanders into her living room where Timberlake and .Paak are dressed in snazzy suits while they’re performing. Finally convinced of what they’re singing about, she begins to jump around in excitement, finally with the energy to get going with her day. It ends with her smiling from ear to ear.

“Don’t Slack” is the second single released from the Trolls World Tour soundtrack after “The Other Side” by SZA and Timberlake that dropped in February. The latter song, about appreciating what you have because life will get better in due time, came with a glittery visual featuring futuristic landscapes made of silver. The entire soundtrack came out last month and it features appearances from James Corden, Mary J. Blige, and more.

Trolls World Tour is set to come out on April 10 in theaters. Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, it’ll also be available as a digital rental on the same day.

Check out the “Don’t Slack” video up above.

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