Even though the state of Tennessee has seen an explosion of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, the Republican governor of the state, Bill Lee, has steadfastly refused to institute new safety measures such as a mask mandate or even a concerted campaign to urge residents of the Volunteer State to get vaccinated.

However, Lee gladly doled out nearly $500,000 worth of taxpayer money to urge cattle farmers to immunize their herds, according to the Associated Press (AP):

“Even though Tennessee has among the lowest vaccination rates in the country, Lee has refused to follow the lead of other states that have offered enticements for people to get the potentially life-saving COVID-19 vaccine.

“Lee hasn’t always been against incentivizing vaccinations.

“Tennessee’s Herd Health program began in 2019 under Lee, whose family business, Triple L Ranch, breeds Polled Hereford cattle. The state currently reimburses participating farmers up to $1,500 for vaccinating their herds, handing out $492,561 over the past two fiscal years, according to documents from the Tennessee Agriculture Department.”

Addressing the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association annual conference on Friday, Lee insisted that incentivizing vaccination for COVID wasn’t a job the government should be part of, telling attendees:

“I don’t think that’s the role of government. The role of government is to make it available and then to encourage folks to get the vaccine.”

So cows are more valuable than people in Gov. Lee’s estimation? Sure sounds that way, with Lee also telling reporters recently:

“We want to encourage Tennesseans to talk to their doctor, to talk to their clergy, to talk to their family members, the trusted voices in their life, in order for them to make a personal decision about whether or not to pursue getting the vaccine, but we encourage that because it is the tool that will most effectively allow us to manage this virus.”

Lee has been vaccinated for COVID-19, but didn’t publicize getting the shot, even though he did let reporters watch when he got a vaccination for the flu.

Tennessee is a great place to be a cow, but humans are on their own. How’s that for upside-down priorities?

Featured Image Via NBC News