It has long since been debunked, although it is making its rounds again now by those intent on pretending COVID is no longer a threat. Well-fitted cloth masks made from 2 layers of 600 TPI fabric provide as much protection as N95 masks. Well-fitted cloth masks made from quilter's cotton (lower TPI) with a layer from a different fabric (coffee filter, silk, polyester) also provide as much protection as N95 masks.
You are corect that being in public is a risk analysis - BUT - consistently wearing well-fitted masks provides substantial extremely good personal protection, even if those around you are not wearing masks.
I taught face to face from August 2020 to April 1, and was exposed numerous times - with enough exposure to be contacted by contact tracers. I have never tested positive, although it is possible that I had the omicron variant in December during the period before they learned some PCR tests did not detect it.