Image by Image via Pxfuel/Victor Tangermann

New York governor Andrew Cuomo invoked nuclear war in a discussion of the coronavirus on Thursday morning, during remarks on CNN's New Day:

Should everybody stay home? Of course. Are we imprisoning people? No. Can you stay inside 24 hours a day? No. When you go out to shop or go out to take a walk and get exercise, social distancing. But look at your words, shelter in place, you know where that came from? That came from nuclear war. What it said is people should go into an interior room of their home with no windows, stay there until they get the all clear sign.

Needless to say, COVID-19 is presumably not as bad as an all-out nuclear war. Though, to be fair, neither we nor Andrew Cuomo could say for sure, having never experienced nuclear war.

But this is a serious public health crisis, and it's forcing leaders like Cuomo to make tough decisions. He's grappling here with the question of how firmly to crack down on New Yorkers leaving their homes during the outbreak — a delicate question of balancing the population's physical health against its mental wellbeing.

Here's more of his remarks this morning:

What I am least sanguine about is that we are battling two things, a virus and fear and panic. And I'm as afraid of the fear and the panic as I am of the virus and I think that the fear is more contagious than the virus right now. You take a place like New York City, we are at near panic levels, so what you say and how you communicate is very important.

Cuomo, who's been governor since 2011 — and whose father, Mario Cuomo, held the same job during the late 70s and early 80s — has had a high-profile streak as he runs the state containing New York City, a cultural metropolis that's expected to be slammed by the pandemic in coming weeks.

At moments, his remarks have come across as measured and realistic.

At other times... well: