Respirators (N-95s) are intended to stop not just droplets, but also small particles like virions. In certain circumstances, such as being a healthcare worker caring for sick COVID-19 patients, that level of protection is necessary. When providing healthcare for symptomatic COVID-19 patients, the chance of a patient coughing, sneezing, or breathing heavily in close proximity to another person is high, therefore stricter precautions are necessary.
For our communities, including in non-healthcare business and schools, wearing cloth face masks and coverings dramatically reduce the transmission of viruses by decreasing the spread of droplets. Droplets expressed from breathing, talking, etc are the main way COVID-19 is spread in a community. The combination of social distancing, face coverings, and good hand hygiene is the best way to decrease virus transmission. According to 172 published studies of COVID-19 in communities (not hospitals), these precautions can decrease virus transmission in a community by over 70%.
Chu et al, The Lancet, June 2020 Mark Shrime, MD, PhD
There are respirators (N95s), surgical masks, cloth masks, and face shields. But these are certainly not equal. N95s will provide the biggest reduction in transmission, but also are not easily available. They are currently prioritized for hospital use. But not all N95s are the same either! Some N95s are not appropriate for healthcare use (including for the public with COVID-19). The N-95s and other masks that have vents on them are meant to be more comfortable and cause less fogging of glasses, but they do that by not restricting airflow outwards. While fine for industrial use (manufacturing, agriculture, etc), they are not as effective during a pandemic.