I know I’ve said this before but what if this situation lasts forever (as this seems more & more like the inevitable outcome every day) & we’ll be forced to distance ourselves and have everything on hold for the rest of our lives? Or, a better question, how is everyone else staying positive to avoid thinking like this when there’s absolutely no signs of hope aside from assumptions & wishful thinking?
I can only really comment from a UK perspective, but I think there's causes for cautious optimism, even though life is going to quite different for perhaps the best part of a year. We're going to be living with the virus itself for a long time and it's going to be tough for especially vulnerable people. Vaccine research seems to be progressing very well, but a vaccine that will be used so widely for what is, for many people, a relatively mild disease, needs extensive testing before it's rolled out. UK experts said to expect a year before you can see one in operation.
As for lockdown itself? The 'old normal' probably won't return for a long time, but neither will the lockdown persist in the current form. Already, countries across the globe are experimenting with tweaks and relaxations after a plateau or fall in the number of new cases - Germany has reopened larger, more spacious retail outlets, and here it's been suggested that you can socialise with a particular list of people outside of your immediate household. A prolonged lockdown is impractical and unhealthy for many reasons, such as higher domestic abuse rates and reduced numbers of people seeking medical attention for other diseases, including cancer.
Outside of the vaccine, there's also hope for drug treatments for COVID-19 itself. A vaccine may prevent people catching the virus in the first instance, but there may also be drugs that help prevent progression of the disease, so we can yet hope that the death toll will fall regardless of infection rates.
RE: career progression and life events being put on hold, yeah, I feel this too. I'm very lucky to be fully employed and working from home during this period, but so many of this year's plans are just remote possibilities in the aether now. The silver lining is that the whole world is paused at present - you're not falling behind, because no one else is moving. Businesses will have to accomodate employees who have been out of work for months once normality returns; schools and universities will have to do the same. It's frustrsting to not be able to plan, to progress, to drive forwards, but just about everyone is in that stasis right now, so you're not missing out.