ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) - A St. Louis-area doctor is pushing Missouri Governor Mike Parson to issue a statewide mask mandate in an effort to save lives amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Micah Luderer, an internal medicine resident at Barnes Jewish Hospital, said he treats COVID-19 patients and witnesses the exhaustion from other doctors and nurses on a weekly basis. Luderer believes part of the solution to stopping the spread of coronavirus is mandating masks throughout the state.

“We’re drowning at the hospital,” Luderer said. “People are dying every day from COVID-19 and we’re not doing everything in our power to stop the virus.”

Tuesday, Luderer wrote and published a petition called “Wear a Mask. Save a Life.” The petition compares the fight against coronavirus to a war, saying “defense doesn’t require heavy ammunition or soldiers, but simply wearing a mask.”

Missouri is one of 13 states without a mask mandate. Parson has repeatedly said he will not issue a statewide mask mandate and instead will leave it up to county officials to decide. Luderer said he and his colleagues often feel overworked and defeated leaving their shifts.

“Sometimes we feel like a firefighters, I go to work all day and I fight fires and then on my drive home, I see people mixing in the community, not wearing masks, starting fires all over again,” Luderer said.

The petition had nearly 2,400 signatures as of Sunday. News 4 asked several people if they support the petition. The majority of people we asked said yes, however Damien Paul believes masks should be a more personal decision.

“I think it should be up to businesses and individuals to take initiative to make the choice themselves,” Paul said.

Luderer said he’s already emailed the 10 largest colleges and universities in Missouri asking for faculty and students to sign the petition. He plans to submit the petition electronically and through the mail this week to the Governor’s office.

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