His initial plan was to flood the hardest-hit region with testing sites and a field hospital, and try to limit new travelers. The White House listened. Florida has received material for three testing sites and four shipments from the federal stockpile of supplies, including 500,000 N95 masks, 250,000 face shields, 714,000 gloves, 1.2 million surgical masks and 200,000 gowns.
Last week, Mr. DeSantis imposed a quarantine on travelers from the New York area. Then, on Saturday morning, he phoned Mr. Trump and complained that New Yorkers flocking to Fort Lauderdale and other nearby cities were still bringing the virus with them. Mr. Trump responded on Twitter, saying that he was considering a quarantine of the New York tristate area, a statement that flummoxed officials in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
The president’s aides — some of whom have tired of Mr. DeSantis’s special requests and believe he takes advantage of the relationship with the White House — tried to explain to the president that it would be almost impossible to enforce such a quarantine. Mr. Trump has also resisted a broader national stay-at-home order, which his advisers see as at odds with years of Republican orthodoxy about states’ rights, and unfair to states that are not experiencing major outbreaks.
On Sunday, the White House dropped its earlier, rosier suggestion that stringent social-distancing measures could be lifted by mid-April, and extended national guidelines to combat the coronavirus until April 30. And on Tuesday, Mr. Trump sounded a distinctly somber note, as he acknowledged for the first time that the next two weeks will be “painful” and allowed that predictions of more than 100,000 deaths were realistic possibilities.
Still, when Mr. DeSantis on Monday signed a more limited stay-at-home order for four counties from Key West to Palm Beach, he insisted that it would be needed only through April 15. Because most of the affected cities and counties, like other large jurisdictions in the state, had already enacted their own orders, the governor conceded his own action was of little consequence.
Cellphone location data showed that people in places like Jacksonville and Daytona Beach in northeast Florida, which were not on lockdown, were frequently traveling across county lines. Commissioners in southwest Florida’s Lee County, which likewise had no stay-at-home order, maintained that they did not need one, in part because the governor had not suggested it.