Hey there, I work in healthcare and have a public health degree! This is the reality: the majority of the public does NOT know the “proper” way to remove sterile masks from the packaging, properly apply it, know when to remove it, and how to remove it. Whenever you are taught how to do these things with these masks for healthcare settings, the training IS INTENSE. We have to know these things to the point of muscle memory. We CAN NOT afford to mess up application, wearing, and removal of sterile medical equipment (gloves, mask, etc.) because we then risk contaminating ourselves, our patients, and cross contaminating patients.
The “standard cloth mask” that many hospitals offer for free to patients is to keep OTHERS from getting sick. It’s to keep YOUR GERMS to YOURSELF. The idea is the mask “catches” the sneeze. If you have a lower immune system (like going through cancer, chemo, etc.), these masks act as a good basic barrier between yourself and the world. It doesn’t exactly mean you’re safe…but there is SOME kind of barrier between you and the world.
There’s evidence that COVID19 hangs around in the air “live” for at least a few hours once an infected person sneezes. This means a person can accidentally walk into a “live hot zone” of infection. A mask (regardless of what kind) can act as SOME form of barrier, but not all masks are created equal and the like.
That’s why many doctors who are working in hospitals are wearing bandanas because at least it’s SOMETHING.
Something is better than nothing, but “weak” protection (like bandanas, regular clothes, regular cloth masks, etc.) it is so easy to accidentally infect yourself when taking it off and/or accidentally cross-contaminating someone else.