With the current Covid-19 pandemic protocols of extreme hand-washing (20 seconds each time, 20 times each day or more), social distancing, shelter-in-place or lockdowns, the one thing that the western world has been wary of, is the dilemma of wearing a face mask or not, to help protect against the spread of the virus.
The authorities have been insistent that no masks are needed for the common man or woman in the streets. "It takes away precious resources for health professionals", "It encourages carelessness.", "It may not be as effective if improperly worn.", go the usual reasons. All true, in some ways, especially if referring to the 'blown fabric' special masks that are reserved for doctors, nurses and other providers who are working with patients in very close proximity of their bodily fluids.
That's not to say though, that ordinary masks are anything, pardon the pun, to be sneezed at. These are the ones improvised or sewn from fabrics at home, that sewers and crafters have been madly making, in hopes of supporting the front-line medical providers in this new war against virus, since the news has been proclaiming their desperate and unmet needs for PPE and N95 masks. ("Knit balaclavas for soldiers fighting in the Crimea", comes to mind).
Eastern cultures such as China, Hong Kong, Singapore and others, have no problems with masks worn against air pollution, which can do double duty against germs. They happily wear them to protect themselves, there being no cultural interdictions, and in the process, are more likely to protect others, since masks of that variety are best to keep one's droplets to oneself.
Currently, the problem with mask wearing in the West is more cultural than medical, but soon, even
'To mask is the new black!', some ad campaign is sure to suggest. #BeBest might become #BeMasked.
P.S. I haven't started churning out new fabric masks for the family yet, am waiting for the official decree before I do so. But I do have a link to likely mask patterns saved away for the day.
Also: this CDC link has multiple types of simpler masks, the easiest being the no-sew version at the bottom of the page.