Life will never be the same after the pandemic passes, says public health journalist

A runner in Maxwell Place Park passes a sign reminding people of social distancing Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Hoboken, N.J., during the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) (Frank Franklin Ii, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

In the years after coronavirus, nothing will be as it was before, Pulitzer-prize winning public health journalist Laurie Garrett said Thursday.

"I think we're going to get four, five years from now and there will not be a single aspect of our lives that's been unchanged," she said at CNN's ongoing coronavirus townhall. "It's almost impossible to really fully envision what that will look like."

Most states in the US are phasing out of restrictions put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus. And while businesses are slowly opening again, an influential model often cited by the White House has said the death toll from the virus could exceed 130,000 by August. Meanwhile, some local leaders have said their communities are not ready to undo the restrictions.

The lack of a unified approach in addressing the pandemic may cause problems in eradicating the virus -- even with a vaccine, Garrett said.

"The virus will continue to circulate in the world, regardless of whether or not there's a vaccine -- unless we're committed to a strategic goal of really getting rid of the virus from the planet with the appropriate implementation of vaccine for everybody: 7.5 billion human beings."

As the length and breadth of coronavirus' effects become clearer, Americans may reconsider everyday aspects of life: from air travel to going to meetings that involve human contact, she said.

"All sorts of interactions and behaviors that we've taken for granted will look different," Garrett said. "We have not yet really felt the effect of the great depression that we're marching into."

Garrett contradicted Vice President Mike Pence's assessment that the pandemic will be largely over by the end of May, saying that she puts the timeline closer to 36 months.

She attributed Pence's timeline to the White House's goal to restart the economy and open businesses, but already she predicts the economy will be feeling the effects of this pandemic for years.

When the health concerns are over, she said, governments may not be able to invest in change and companies may not have the funds to develop and innovate, she said.

Gary Cohn, former economic adviser to President Trump, emphasized Thursday that he is optimistic about the future of the US economy and believes the nation will be "very clever and very creative" in creating new opportunities, but also disagrees with the President's assessment that the next year will be incredible economically.

“I think it’s going to take longer than 12 months for us to evolve to where we’re comfortable,” Cohn told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “Unless something miraculously happens in the medical field and we get a vaccine... it’s going to take some period of time.”