As of August 2020, thousands of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) publications have been produced. Manual assessment of their scope is an overwhelming task, and shortcuts through metadata analysis (e.g., keywords) assume that studies are properly tagged. However, machine learning approaches can rapidly survey the actual text of publication abstracts to identify research overlap between COVID-19 and other coronaviruses, research hotspots, and areas warranting exploration. We propose a fast, scalable, and reusable framework to parse novel disease literature. When applied to the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19), dimensionality reduction suggests that COVID-19 studies to date are primarily clinical-, modeling- or field-based, in contrast to the vast quantity of laboratory-driven research for other (non-COVID-19) coronavirus diseases. Furthermore, topic modeling indicates that COVID-19 publications have focused on public health, outbreak reporting, clinical care, and testing for coronaviruses, as opposed to the more limited number focused on basic microbiology, including pathogenesis and transmission.