N95 masks and Eye protection work to protect the wearer in the ER - doctors and nurses rarely get covid. Many ERs have existed in a cloud of covid with sick covid patients who spew covid into the air. This is the worst case for risk of transmitting covid.
In the wild, we are trying to protect ourselves from a covid-spreader, a person infected with covid and breathing out infectious droplets who is probably asymptomatic and ignorant of his/her infection and contagiousness. This is the most common method of coivd spreading.
Everyone in the public deserves this same protection of an N95 mask when they unknowingly encounter in public an asymptomatic carrier of covid, who is spewing the virus into the air. This exposure is probably much less dense than the ER but enough to spread covid wildly as in Houston today. An N95 mask protects you from droplets that reach your face. Probably 95% of the actual droplets of covid that reach you are stopped on the mask. A cloth mask may knock down droplets of the spreader if he/she is even wearing a cloth mask, but your cloth mask offers little protection as you breathe the covid through the cloth mask and you become infected.
If you wear an N95 mask, you are protecting yourself. And you are preventing community spread by not getting infected yourself and even if you do get infected and have no symptoms you will be even less likely to spread droplets to others.
It is all good. It is better in every situation to wear an N95 mask than a cloth or surgical mask and certainly better than no mask at all.
There is NO reason the public does not deserve this same protection as HCW by obtaining and wearing N95 masks.
Originally, in January 2020, there were not enough N95 masks for the public and healthcare workers were rightly favored. We all wanted them to still be there if we needed them. That was six months ago. Predictable Pandemic planning was woefully inadequate.
Leaders have no excuse now and in the near future for a shortage of N95 masks for the public.
Ask and demand this of your local, state and federal politicians.